The Painted Forest
WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, available now
In this often-surprising book of essays, Krista Eastman explores the myths we make about who we are and where we’re from. The Painted Forest uncovers strange and little-known “home places”—not only the picturesque hills and valleys of the author’s childhood in rural Wisconsin, but also tourist towns, the “under-imagined and overly caricatured” Midwest, and a far-flung station in Antarctica where the filmmaker Werner Herzog makes an unexpected appearance.
The Painted Forest upends easy narratives of place, embracing tentativeness and erasing boundaries. But it is Eastman’s willingness to play—to follow her curiosity down every odd path, to exude a skeptical wonder—that gives this book depth and distinction. An unlikely array of people, places, and texts meet for close conversation, and tension is diffused with art, imagination, and a strong sense of there being some other way forward. Eastman offers a smart and contemporary take on how we wander and how we belong.
Named one of the best literary nonfiction debuts of 2019 by Poets & Writers.
NAMED A FAVORITE BOOK OF 2019 by THE PROGRESSIVE
WINNER OF THE NORMAN BLEI/AUGUST DERLETH NONFICTION BOOK AWARD
From Publishers Weekly: “Eastman’s deep fascination with and love of her home state, in all its complexity and eccentricity, permeate this moving book and will live on in the reader’s mind.” Read the full review here.
From Zyzzyva: “The Painted Forest proves Eastman to be thoroughly acquainted with the world in which she lives; insatiably curious, she renders people and places in exquisite, elaborate detail.” Read the full review here.
From Rain Taxi: “Gorgeously written and meticulously researched, it would be perfect for lovers of creative nonfiction—especially those with an affinity for nature writing and ecocriticism. . . . A continuing tour led by a bright, fascinating guide who reminds us that adventure is born from the possibility of self-discovery.”
From The Progressive: “(…) reading fellow Wisconsinite Krista Eastman’s debut book of essays that question the very idea of belonging to a place […) has been such sweet, radical relief.” Read more here.
From Shepherd Express: “Eastman’s musings offer keen observations that infuse each essay in this boundary-breaking anthology with a playful voice and artful imagination.” Read the review here.
Read an interview with the author here.
Or listen to this interview from Wisconsin Public Radio.