After Life as a Human
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Events with Laura Valeri
Laura Valeri will be reading from After Life as a Human at digital events this fall. Check out our events page for more information.
After Life as a Human
Laura Valeri was interviewed by Marc Bernier of The Talk of Florida — listen to the full interview on our Media page.
About Laura Valeri
Laura Valeri is the author of four books, including the award-winning story collections Safe in Your Head, The Kinds of Things Saints Do, and her most recent, The Dead Still Here. Valeri's essays, stories, translations, and critical essays are widely published, most recently in South 85 Journal, Assay, Santa Fe Writers Quarterly, Fiction Southeast, PRIMS, and others. Valeri was a Sewanee Fellow and her awards include the John Simmons Iowa Award, the John Gardner Award, and an SFA Literary Prize. She is professor of creative writing at Georgia Southern University and is the founding editor of Wraparound South, a journal of southern literature. You can find more about her at LauraValeri.com
After Life as a Human by Laura Valeri
Located off of Florida's Forgotten Coast, Dog Island is a wild twin of St. George Island, the popular resort destination. Unlike St. George, however, Dog Island is mostly nature preserve, with only a few residents left. Accessible only by airplane or boat, the island attracts seekers of a reprieve from modern life, drawn to an ancient paradise that remains untouched by commercial enterprises, but with sea levels rising, industrial spills poisoning the wildlife, and climate change causing more frequent hurricanes, Dog Island is slowly becoming a "paradise lost."
The seven short memoirs in this collection link local history, environmental research, and spiritual meditations to reflect on the island's wild beauty while coming to terms with the heartbreaking destruction of its fragile ecology and humanity's hesitance to acknowledge our inexorable connection to all living beings.
Photos of Dog Island & Links of Interest
Read an account of Dog Island's naming and mapping by Father Charlevoix, and a poem written by soldiers who engaged in exercises on Dog Island in World War II
See an MSNBC interview with Bradley Shanks during Hurricane Michael
All photos by Joel Caplan
Advance Praise for After Life as a Human
This compact and lyrical book allows the reader to join Valeri on a remote getaway to Dog Island, a personal journey that highlights the fragility and enduring impact of the coast as its future shifts before our eyes.
—Sonya Huber, author of Opa Nobody, Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir, and Pain Woman Takes Your Keys
Looking for refuge where people “let down by the rat race could get some quiet time for reflection,” Laura Valeri and her husband Joel rent a cottage on remote, primeval Dog Island, home to ten humans and two dogs. With a journalist’s observational skills and the heart of a poet, she paints a stark and lovely portrait of a Gulf Coast wilderness few of us will ever see. The story engrosses us with funny accounts of pelicans, the “street kids” of seabirds. It stuns us with a litany of devastating storms. It touches us with an aching meditation on the death of a loon. After Life as a Human is a timely, vital contemplation of the mutability of the wild and our own frail impermanence.
--James Lough, author of This Ain't No Holiday Inn: Down and Out at the Chelsea Hotel
Laura Valeri is writing about one of my favorite places on earth, the wild and deeply storied Gulf Coast of Florida. Here she describes—in scenic, confident, and refreshingly honest prose—falling in love with a place that is on the front lines of the climate crisis. The book is at once about love, grief, and the transformation that happens when one’s heart opens to wildness.
--Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood
In Laura Valeri’s new and beautifully-written collection of linked essays, she transports us to Dog Island, a remote paradise-of-sorts—devoid of the insidious distractions of contemporary human existence, overrun with coyotes—seeking solitude and peace amid the undisturbed flora and fauna. Braiding lyrical travelogue and Dillard-esque meditation, and filtered through interrogations into history and mythology, After Life as a Human becomes a profound engagement of the rapaciousness of late-stage capitalism and the delicacy of a natural world threatened by industry and climate change. Valeri’s powers of observation and environmental responsibility are on full display, and they accumulate here into a Walden for the 21st century.
—Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Flight of the Diamond Smugglers: A Tale of Pigeons, Obsession, and Greed Along Coastal South Africa