NASA, public domain.

A crisis that was already too large to comprehend just got bigger: the Gulf Coast spill might be 10 times worse than anybody thought. Thinking about the 5,000 barrels of oil gushing into ocean a few days ago made my heart sink… now it’s 70,000?! How can anybody possibly grasp the magnitude of this?

Joseph McElroy wonders the same thing in his article “Water Work,” a review of both Stanley Crawford’s Mayordomo: Chronicle of an Acequia in Northern New Mexico and Peter Matthiessen’s Far Tortuga, in the most recent issue of Tricycle. His answer?

So perhaps to refresh my thought, if not save the day, I find myself turning to small-scale comings and goings.

In his “small-scale” exploration of these two works, McElroy provides some insight into how we might be able to understand a disaster so vast.

It is a secular death of Nature we are bringing about, and the art of Far Tortuga shows both large-scale and humanly small-scale catastrophe whether it says Yes or No. Darkly, shiningly, heartbreakingly—and in lyrical resignation which is, thus, just short of thinking through more fully what has gone wrong, what we are looking at.

Read the full review here

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