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Humans were surrounded by other animals from the beginning of time: they were food, clothes, adversaries, companions, jokes, and gods. And yet, our companions in evolution are leaving the world both as physical beings and spiritual symbols and not returning. In this collection of linked essays, Alison Hawthorne Deming asks, and seeks to answer: what does the disappearance of animals mean for human imagination and existence? Moving from mammoth hunts to dying house cats, she explores profound questions about what it means to be animal. What is inherent in animals that leads us to destroy, and what that leads us toward peace? As human animals, how does art both define us as a species and how does it emerge primarily from our relationship with other species? The reader emerges with a transformed sense of how the living world around us has defined and continues to define us in a powerful way.
Alison Hawthorne Deming is the Winner of the Walt Whitman Award, finalist for the PEN Center West Award, and a former Stegner Fellow. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of Arizona and a Chair of the Board for Orion. She splits her time between Tucson, AZ and Grand Manan, New Brunswick.