The Book of Unconformities

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From the author of the acclaimed Insectopedia comes a powerful exploration of history, loss, and the absences that permeate the present.

When Hugh Raffles's two sisters died suddenly within a few weeks of each other, he reached for rocks, stones, and other seemingly solid objects as anchors in a world unmoored, ways to make sense of these events through stories far larger than his own.
Drawing on history, anthropology, geology, and ten years of field research, this moving and profound meditation is grounded in stories of stones: Neolithic stone circles, Icelandic lava, mica from a Nazi concentration camp, petrified whale blubber in Svalbard, the marble prized by Manhattan's Lenape, and the Greenlandic meteorites that arrived in an exuberant New York City in 1897 accompanied by six adventurous Inughuit travelers. Stone, it turns out, is not only the most philosophical of substances -- the substance that forces a reckoning with time -- it is also deeply human in its entanglements. As Raffles follows these fundamental objects, unearthing the events they've engendered, he finds them losing their solidity, as willful, capricious, and indifferent as fate itself.

Publication Date: 
August 11, 2020