Tag Archives: Midge Raymond

Review: My Last Continent

My Last Continent

My Last Continent
By Midge Raymond
Scribner Book Company, Hardcover, 9781501124709, June 21, 2016, 320pp.

The Short of It:

A highly readable story touching on the environmental impact of tourism upon Antarctica and its native penguins.

The Rest of It:

If you’re not familiar with Midge Raymond, you ought to be. Years ago she asked me to review a collection of short stories titled (Forgetting English) and it was one of the first short story collections that I read and actually enjoyed. The stories were so well-developed, which is what I worry about when reading short stories. Will I feel satisfied after reading them? Yes. In this case, yes.

My Last Continent is her first novel and it’s actually an expansion of one of my favorite stories from Forgetting English, (The Ecstatic Cry). In this novel, we meet Deb Gardner who has been studying the habits of penguins in the frigid waters of Antarctica. Year after year she returns and takes great pleasure in the solitude that her research provides. But at times, it does get lonely so when she meets and falls in love with Keller Sullivan, she’s conflicted. Can you have a successful relationship with someone when your research takes you to one of the most remote areas of the world?

I read this book in a day. It’s smart, makes you think about the impact of tourism on wildlife and has a little bit of something for everyone. There’s a bit of romance, a little science and a terrific, harrowing account of a ship sinking (not a spoiler).

The most impressive thing about this book is the handling of the timeline. The story bounces back and forth in time, sometimes by hours and sometimes by decades, but it’s executed so well. I had no problem moving between chapters and I found myself fully immersed in the landscape Raymond depicts.

If the summer heat is already beating you down, pick this one up because as soon as you step into the world that Raymond creates, you’ll cool off pretty fast and learn something new in the process. Plus, hello! Penguins. How can you resist?

Source: Review copy provided by the author.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Forgetting English

Forgetting English
By Midge Raymond
Eastern Washington University Press
November 2008
152pp

Here is the blurb from the publisher:

In this collection of award-winning stories, Midge Raymond explores the indelible imprint of home upon identity, and the ways in which new frontiers both defy and confirm it. The characters that inhabit these stories travel for business and for pleasure, out of duty and in search of freedom – and each comes face-to-face with the unexpected. From a biologist navigating the icy moonscape of Antarctica to a businesswoman seeking refuge in the South Pacific, the characters in these stories are in search of escape, but once stripped of their daily lives, they are confronted with who they actually are, and who they are meant to be.

The Short of It:

This collection of stories is a restorative tonic for the soul.

The Rest of It:

I am not a fan of short fiction but every now and then I give it a try and usually I am disappointed. That said, I was not disappointed by Forgetting English. In fact, I was so mesmerized by the beauty of the writing that I spent an entire morning on the couch enjoying it. From one story to the next, I found myself completely and utterly absorbed. Each story is so different and yet there are common themes…insecurity, yearning, shame and the need to escape.

My favorite story happens to be the book’s title. Forgetting English and is about a teacher by the name of Paige that has taken a teaching job in Taipei in order to escape her life back home. She befriends Jing-wei in an effort to learn Chinese. Both women have secrets and as their stories unfold, we learn how much their friendship means to one another and how flawed the human spirit can be.

I found myself embracing several other stories as well:

Translation Memory (a married couple grieve in their own way after suffering a loss)
The Road to Hana (a married couple struggle with the realization of what they’ve become, or what they’ve always been)
The Ecstatic Cry (researchers in Antarctica, Empire penguins and the need for human contact)

It’s not often that I tell anyone to go out and get a particular book, but this collection is a real treasure. The writing is effortless and natural and each story, although brief, is very satisfying in the end.  This is a great collection to curl-up with. I recommend that you get yourself a copy.

Midge Raymond won the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. For more information about the author, click here. I initially read an excerpt and decided that I had to read the collection so if you’d like to read an excerpt, click here.

Source: This copy was sent to me by the author, Midge Raymond.