Stranded: Finding Nature in Uncertain Times by Maddelena Bearzi 2023
This is one of those rare books that I didn’t enjoy very much but pressed on and managed to complete it. I noticed the book during my most recent ‘grazing’ at the Cambridge Public Library and was drawn to its title and subtitle. Poor decision.
Bearzi is a marine biologist who lives in LA and spends her time studying marine mammals off the West coast of the US. She is also, along with her husband, the co-founder of the Ocean Conservation Society. She is, no doubt, an accomplished scientist and an effective advocate for saving our earth by changing how we relate to living things and their environment, but that has not made her a compelling writer.
Her leaden prose about prosaic topics (the birds’ song, lizards, and opossum who live in her LA backyard) left me struggling to reach the final page. I generally love books about nature and our environment, but this one didn’t do it for me. What I did enjoy in this slim volume, were her pen and ink drawings. A beautiful rendering of a rocky outcrop in the Pacific graces the cover and is repeated along with a quote from Jane Goodall on the final page while other sketches of birds, turtles, her dog, coyote, and landscapes introduce each chapter. The sketches were lovely; the writing was dull. Enough said.