Pandora’s Garden
Kudzu, Cockroaches, and Other Misfits of Ecology

Clinton Crockett Peters

Essays that reveal the parallels between natural and societal misfits


"I see books such as Peters’s as an expression of our Zeitgeist. I have the clear notion Pandora’s Garden is necessary. In an era that some scientists have dubbed the Anthropocene, we need a clear understanding of the persistent power of what we call nature—whether that power is deemed ‘invasive’ or otherwise. Pandora’s Garden is essential reading for anyone who loves a beautiful essay and also for those who seek to learn. Peters's topics are quirky, and his research is strong. He’s that rare breed of self-critical environmentalist, and we need that in order to keep a balanced concern with the environment alive."
—BK Loren, author of Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food

"The world is changing. Clinton Crockett Peters recognizes that as many species may disappear in the next century as did in the great dinosaur extinction. While that will lead to much despair, Peters argues that this is also a great time to recognize what species will adapt, how humans will appreciate what’s left, and how life, like Kudzu, finds a way. While there is some eulogizing for lost species, there is also celebration of life’s, even a cockroach’s, sweet ability to adjust and survive. The humor, the amount of research, and the way Peters weaves together his personal story with this global one make this not only a unique book but also a playful, engrossing one."
—Nicole Walker, author of Quench Your Thirst with Salt

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Pandora’s Garden profiles invasive or unwanted species in the natural world and examines how our treatment of these creatures sometimes parallels in surprising ways how we treat each other. Part essay, part nature writing, part narrative nonfiction, the chapters in Pandora’s Garden are like the biospheres of the globe; as the successive chapters unfold, they blend together like ecotones, creating a microcosm of the world in which we sustain nonhuman lives but also contain them.

There are many reasons particular flora and fauna may be unwanted, from the physical to the psychological. Sometimes they may possess inherent qualities that when revealed help us to interrogate human perception and our relationship to an unwanted other. Pandora’s Garden is primarily about creatures that humans don’t get along with, such as rattlesnakes and sharks, but the chapters also take on a range of other subjects, including stolen children in Australia, the treatment of illegal immigrants in Texas, and the disgust function of the human limbic system. Peters interweaves these diverse subjects into a whole that mirrors the evolving and interrelated world whose surprises and oddities he delights in revealing.

Crux: The Georgia Series in Literary Nonfiction

Page count: 192 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $24.95

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Clinton Crockett Peters has been awarded literary prizes from Shenandoah, North American Review, Crab Orchard Review, Columbia Journal, and the Society for Professional Journalists. His writing has appeared in Orion, Southern Review, Hotel Amerika, The Rumpus, and many other venues. He lives in Carrollton, Texas.