The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2019
Advent / Christmas Calendar
Macfarlane continues to return to the anxieties of the Anthropocene and offers a kind of hope that rises only from the depths of the earth itself. This is not a climate change book per se, but no one can write of the wild or natural world in this time without the climate crisis casting its vast shadow. Both the extensive bibliography and the acknowledgements, two of the best places to discern the central concerns of a book, reflect this. There we find we find Jedediah Purdy, author of After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene, listed as a reader of early drafts, and books like Timothy Morton’s Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World peppering the bibliography. Macfarlane shows that not only mountains but also caves and crevices and catacombs can be thin places—“those sites in a landscape where the borders between worlds or epochs feel at their most fragile.” The mix of narrative and reflection, and the journeys to the unfamiliar world beneath us, make Underland a kind of pilgrimage of descent. Those who journey with Macfarlane through the underland will return to the surface with a new awareness of the depths—of time, of earth, of hope.
- from our review of this book by Ragan Sutterfiend
in our Fall 2019 magazine issue