Book Passage Presents
Wed., August 11, 2021 • 5:30pm PT • Live • Online
In conversation with Nickolas Butler • Signed bookplates available!
For generations, Rich Gundersen’s family has chopped a livelihood out of the redwood forest along California’s rugged coast. Now Rich and his wife, Colleen, are raising their own young son near Damnation Grove, a swath of ancient redwoods on which Rich’s employer, Sanderson Timber Co., plans to make a killing. In 1977, with most of the forest cleared or protected, a grove like Damnation—and beyond it 24-7 Ridge—is a logger’s dream.
It’s dangerous work. Rich has already lived decades longer than his father, killed on the job. Rich wants better for his son, Chub, so when the opportunity arises to buy 24-7 Ridge—costing them all the savings they’ve squirreled away for their growing family—he grabs it, unbeknownst to Colleen. Because the reality is their family isn’t growing; Colleen has lost several pregnancies. And she isn’t alone. As a midwife, Colleen has seen it with her own eyes.
For decades, the herbicides the logging company uses were considered harmless. But Colleen is no longer so sure. What if these miscarriages aren’t isolated strokes of bad luck? As mudslides take out clear-cut hillsides and salmon vanish from creeks, her search for answers threatens to unravel not just Rich’s plans for the 24-7, but their marriage too, dividing a town that lives and dies on timber along the way.
Told from the perspectives of Rich, Colleen, and Chub, in prose as clear as a spring-fed creek, this intimate, compassionate portrait of a community clinging to a vanishing way of life amid the perils of environmental degradation makes Damnation Spring an essential novel for our time.
Ash Davidson was born in Arcata, California, and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has been supported by the Arizona Commission on the Arts and MacDowell. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Nickolas Butler is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Shotgun Lovesongs, The Hearts of Men, Little Faith, and his most recent, Godspeed, as well as the story collection Beneath the Bonfire. Butler is the recipient of multiple literary prizes and commendations and has published articles, reviews, short stories, and poetry in publications such as Ploughshares, Narrative, and The New York Times Book Review, among others. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he now lives with his wife and two children on sixteen acres of land in rural Wisconsin.
Ash Davidson photo by Carol B. Hagen