"Death does not end our relationships with the dead. It only transforms them."
Next summer, we're publishing Tim Taranto's debut Ars Botanica, a moving meditation on grief, memory, and the way we return to ourselves after experiencing loss.
Written as letters to his unborn child, Taranto remembers the infinite pleasures of falling in love — the small discoveries of each other's otherness, the crush of desire, the frightening closeness — and the terrifying impossibility of losing someone. Through examinations of the ways in which various cultures and religions carry grief, Taranto discovers the emotional instincts that shape his own mourning. He seeks solace in the natural elements of our world, divining meaning from the Iowa fields that stretch around him, the stones he collects, the plants he discovers on walks through the woods. His letters, then, are the honest wanderings of someone earnestly seeking meaning and belonging, resulting in a sort of field guide for love, grief, and celebrating life. At times astonishingly personal and even painful, Ars Botanica is also playfully funny, a rich hybrid of memoir, poetry, and illustration, that delightfully defies categorization.
"Ars Botanica reads like a memoir in letters to a phantom addressee, a parent imagining his child; it’s also an introduction to life on the planet, a primer for how to live in our world [...] Somehow Ars Botanica also winds up being a beautiful and highly personal field guide to the natural world, and a meditation on our biological and chosen families. This is the story of a haunting, and a love story. It’s one of the most wrenching and honest accounts of falling in and out of love, of moving through a season of grief, that I’ve ever read."
—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove
Tim Taranto is from upstate New York. His work has appeared on Buzzfeed, The Rumpus, The Paris Review Daily, FSG's Works in Progress, The Iowa Review and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. He is a graduate of Cornell University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa where he is the managing editor of Little Village magazine.