Book Review: I’m with the Bears

Buy this book. Why? Two reasons – 1) it’s a collection of great short stories (not cheerful, it has to be said!), and

2) cash from every sale goes to one of the least worst climate campaigning groups around,

Verso, a publisher better known for slender/glossy books by Jean Baudrillad and worthy Marxist doorsteps, dreamt up the project three years ago, and sought out stories from writers like Helen Simpson, Margaret Atwood and Toby Litt. Some works were specially written, some were donated from previously published efforts. Most importantly, not one of the ten is a dud (always a concern with these Cause Related volumes). Some of them will act as depth charges, exploding days after you’ve read them.

Bill McKibben, founder of, “the international grassroots movement working to reduce the amount of C02 in the atmosphere” sums up the human dilemma beautifully in his brief introduction

“With climate change we face the biggest single thing human beings have ever done, so big as to be almost invisible. By pointing it out, the world’s writers help pose the question for the final exam humanity now faces: was the big brain adaptive, or not?”

From there TC Boyle gives a beautiful account of the humility and humiliation of activism in “The Siskiyou, July 1989.” Lydia Millet explores our affinity for animals and extinction in “Zoogoing.” Helen Simpson‘s “Diary of an Interesting Year,” reminiscent of Christopher Priest’s classic novel “Fugue for a Darkening Island” makes Leonard Cohen seem like Britney Spears, and should NOT be read by anyone of a nervous disposition. Or by anyone at all after dark.

The last long piece is by Paolo Bacigalupi – it describes a (near?) future world of severe water scarcity in the Western United States and the militarised response, and the response to that of people who (try to )fall through the cracks.

As far as MCFly and Verso are aware, this is the first published collection of “climate” short stories. Given the quality of the fiction, and the fact that all royalties are going to a Good Cause, here’s hoping it’s not the last.

Marc Hudson

[Disclosure – We asked Verso for a review copy, and they sent one.]

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
This entry was posted in Book Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s