Pleasing Tree by Brooke Larson
Nominated for the 2020 AML Award for Creative Nonfiction!
Nominated for the 2020 CLMP Firecracker Award for Creative Nonfiction!
Brooke Larson’s essay collection Pleasing Tree explores the human relationship with the wilderness. Beginning with a Mormon-founded experiment in primitive survival, teenagers hike the Arizona desert while Larson shines light on the effects of prolonged exposure to the outdoors, to lands considered inhospitable to life. Recalling Biblical and religious sojourns, Larson maps her own travels from the desert to Salt Lake City to New York City to Jerusalem, observing the life that curls in a leaf, the bug that spews cinnamon-flavored goo, and the water that occasionally floods the desert. Her essays track the impact the often unnoticed has on the human psyche, discovering the awe upon the recognition that even the desert’s heart beats. This collection crawls with insects, communicative plants, and poetry. It pulses with blood and breath, excrement and the bodies of the living.
Cover Art/Design: Dustin Hyman
Size: 8 X 5.25 X 0.40 inches
Price: $16 + shipping
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~ John Bennion, author of Falling toward Heaven and An Unarmed Woman
"Pleasing Tree is a wakeful series of interdisciplinary excavations into how the human being, when out of options, begins to heal. Into the narrative of a troubled teen trekking into the desert with the ANASAZI wilderness program and then returning, as an adult, to work as a guide herself, Brooke Larson weaves meditations on Native American and Mormon spirituality, the benefits of blandness, the fullness of desert emptiness, the bodily experience of spiritual hunger, and the dangers of over-pathologizing ourselves and each other. With sources spanning biblical myth and botany, Emily Dickinson and John Cage, these essays speak up in favor of the wonderful weirdness inherent in the natural world and in the human being. Larson’s prose is large-hearted and trippy, self-aware and funny, expansive and raw. And, ultimately, driven by hope."
~ Jessie van Eerden, author of My Radio Radio and The Long Weeping
"Brooke Larson’s Pleasing Tree is a unique hybrid, braiding the personal and the informational, the lyric and the technical, into a series of histories about Mormons and seasonal affective disorder and the desert and the city, but maybe even more importantly, about people, vulnerable, lost, searching in every quadrant of the world for a place to belong."
~ Dustin Parsons, author of Exploded View: Essays of Fatherhood with Diagrams
“Pleasing Tree is a pilgrimage through landscape and thought, an ecstatic meandering most beautifully wrought, visionary in its wandering. In this deft collection of essays branching with the largess of cellular star stuff, Larson’s writing jolts with awareness so painfully expansive it becomes difficult to see the world without a shimmering awareness correlated so mystifyingly close.”
~ Rebbecca Brown, author of They Become Her and Mouth Trap
Brooke Larson is a writer, collagist, and sometimes wilderness guide. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and a PhD in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. A chapbook of her poem-plays, Origami Drama, is available through Quarterly West.