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The questions that drive the essays in Fire and Stone are the questions asked by the painter Paul Gauguin in the title of his 1897 painting: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? These questions look beyond everyday trivialities to ponder the essence of our origins.
Using her own story as a touchstone, Long explores our human roots and how they shape who we are today. Her personal history encompasses childhood as an identical twin on a dairy farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland; the turmoil, social change, and music of the 1960s; the suicide of a sister; and a life in art in the Pacific Northwest. Here, memoir extends the threads of the writer’s individual and very personal life to science, to history, and to ancestors, both literary and genetic, back to the Neanderthals.
Long uses profoundly poetic personal essays to draw larger connections and to ask compelling questions about identity. Framed by four distinctive sections, Fire and Stone transcends genre and evolves into a sweeping elegy on what it means to be human.
Priscilla Long is a Seattle-based author, poet, and master teacher. Her other books are Crossing Over: Poems, The Writer’s Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life, and Where the Sun Never Shines: A History of America’s Bloody Coal Industry. She serves as founding and consulting editor at HistoryLink.org, the online encyclopedia of Washington state History.
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