It's not what you think--some sort of enviro agitprop. These are literary artists responding to our situation head-on, as artists, and with striking results.
But it's not any clever sci-fi futurism that stays with you, or any mere didacticism. It's the acute psychological portraits, the way they cut through abstractions like "climate crisis" to bring it home, make it real.
I want to say these stories get at something desperately needed--a psychological realism, an emotional depth, almost completely missing from the climate "debate." I don't mean just a palpable fear (much less some naive hope). I mean something more like the will to survive, or the capacity to love, maybe even to pray. Something we understand as human.
Our Climate, Ourselves...
I'm with the Bears was reviewed by Ben Kupstas in L Magazine:
These ten stories avoid the sort of didactic, righteous preaching that elsewhere grates. … any reader with an interest in environmental issues will appreciate these different angles on the most pressing of our many current crises.
Read the full review here.
I'm With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet has been picked as the Book of the Month by Dazed and Confused as
a devastating collection of short fiction that envisions the terrifying destruction ... in the face of climate change.
The reviewer highlights the "cumulative effect" of the "cautionary tales" included in the volume, which are "stimulating and frightening in equal measure." Special mention is made of the contributions by Margaret Atwood, Helen Simpson and David Mitchell, "masterly, genuinely nightmare inducing visions." The reviewer has no doubts: "This is a great collection of entertaining, nerve-racking, truly worthy art."
The stories contained in I'm With the Bears "dazzle the reader with their imaginative range and depth," writes Arifa Akbar in a review for the Independent. The reviewer stresses how the book—royalties from which will go to 350.org, an international grassroots movement working to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere—can be described as "an ‘imaginative intervention' in response to the dearth of fiction dealing with climate change."
Including contributions from world-class authors such as TC Boyle, David Mitchell and Wu Ming 1, the book brings together "an impressive line-up of contributors." Their stories "envisage a plethora of apocalyptic or disaster scenarios:" from the diary entries dated 2040, after "the collapse", in Helen Simpson's piece, to Margaret Atwood's "short but epic take on the destruction of epochs."
Visit the Independent to read the review in full.
Author and activist Bill McKibben, who wrote the introduction to I'm With the Bears: Stories from a Damaged Planet, has a message for environmental activists working against the proposed Keyston XL pipeline:
Um, we won. You won.
Except... "Not completely." McKibben is referring to President Obama's recent decision to order a second environmental review, a move which some analysts consider to signal the proposal's certain demise. McKibben is promising to see this through, directly addressing activists working with his organization 350.org and encouraging them to continue their involvement in the campaign until the decision to shut down the pipeline project is finalized.