QUICK EXCERPT: Two Pages from “THE FALL”

Purportedly a photo of the last Great Auk, on the Icelandic island of Eldey. It was strangled on July 3, 1844, because it's what we do.

Purportedly a photo of the last Great Auk, on the Icelandic island of Eldey. It was strangled on July 3, 1844, because it’s what we do.

My newest book, The Fall, consists of many brief sections, often just a page or two in length.

I never know which sections to read aloud on school visits, or to share here. Nothing feels exactly emblematic, since it’s all about the cumulation of detail, images, perceptions, facts.

This part was inspired by Elizabeth Kolbert’s brilliant book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. I’ve been telling everyone to read it since the book came out, and I’m glad to see that it recently won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.

In my imagination, I thought that maybe a science teacher had read the book and passed along the story of the auks to my book’s narrator. To get that teacher’s name, I thought of my pal, Lisa Dolan, who has dedicated her career to pressing good books into the hands of young readers.

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