Harvey. Maria. Irma. Sandy. Katrina. We live in a time of unprecedented hurricanes and catastrophic weather events, a time when it is increasingly clear that climate change is neither imagined nor distant―and that rising seas are transforming the coastline of the United States in irrevocable ways.
This is a book about language, first and foremost, a literary approach to a real-world problem. So while facts and figures do find their way in, conveying how fast the waters will rise or how far the sea may ultimately intrude, they are not the main focus ... Rush captures nature with precise words that almost amount to poetry; the book is further enriched with illuminating detail from the lives of those people inhabiting today’s coasts ... The dispatches of the subtitle really come straight from the people on the front lines of this drowning ... To me, these are the most intense portions of the book, yet there is no character, not even Rush herself, to guide you through the whole of this story. Nor is there really a plot to follow, not even a chronology that points the way through a series of essays veering from haunting survivors’ tales to poetic musings on science. It’s an intentional series of vignettes, however, bolstered by deep reporting and a sense of history, reminiscent in part of W. G. Sebald’s works evoking place, even up to including photographs, like the pictures of rampikes that mark various chapters. It’s often a treat to figure out where Rush is going with any particular story ... Elegies like this one will play an important role as people continue to confront a transformed, perhaps unnatural world, and grieve for the doomed or already lost.
Elizabeth Rush's Rising: Dispatches From the New American Shore is a revelation ... Their stories, told through a combination of lyrical reportage and first-person accounts from her subjects, coalesce into a moving and urgent portrait ... Rising is a clarion call.
... an elegiac environmental justice–oriented meditation on sea level rise .... Troubled by...inequities, Rush reveals why and where the sea is rising, who in our nation is affected, and what we might democratically do about it. She excels at redrawing our blurring edges—showing, for example, how the state of Louisiana no longer resembles a boot now that its sole is deteriorating ... Rising is an assemblage of vignettes: interviews with scientists, cautionary photographs of coastal ghost trees killed at the root by salinity, first-person testimonials by folks living in threatened wetlands, and accounts of the author’s travels to transforming shoreline communities ... Rising is also a treatise on language. Take the term resilient, which we apply to both people and the environment to describe strength. Rush glosses the word, considering how its meaning varies for people depending where on the shifting shore they stand ... 'Real resiliency might mean letting go of our image of the coastline, learning to leave the very places we have long considered necessary to our survival,' Rush writes ... Rush focuses on the strategy of community-driven resettlement with government support. It is, she argues, the only approach with the appropriate humility and acknowledgment of the scale of the threat.