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.
Praise from Elizabeth Taylor, the Chicago Tribune's Literary Editor
Famed naturalist and writer John Muir (a founder of the Sierra Club) once observed that if it ever came down to a war between the races, he would side with the bears. That remark inspired the title of this compelling collection of short fiction concerned with climate change.
This collection is a jolt out of our armchairs, a call to arms, because scientific evidence has its limitations. The all-star array of fiction writers who have contributed to this book helps us feel what it would be like to live in a very different landscape. T.C. Boyle's disturbing story involves early eco-activists; David Mitchell imagines a world dramatically changed by oil prices; Nathaniel Rich has a darkly comic story about a crab and a marine biologist.
Together, these stories inspire both fear and hope about our environmental future. Of course, the other reason this little volume is so terrific is that the stories are written with verve and style. Feel good about the purchase: Royalties go to 350.org, a group working to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
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."