William Bryant Logan, an author who lives and breathes the air of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, has a new book coming out in August called Air: The Restless Shaper of the World from WW Norton.
The author’s fascinating focus is music and how sound is the product of vibrations that travel through the air. In the book, which I haven’t read but sounds quite interesting, Logan discusses everything from radio stations to parrots’ language to Beethoven to Aeolian harps.
Air. You barely think about it yet it sustains each of us and every living creature. The book is rife with mind boggling factoids like this: “Twenty thousand fungal spores and half a million bacteria travel in a square foot of summer air.”
The book sounds at once scientific and poetic. Air. It’s one of those simply named books that touches on so many things. “The chemical sense of aphids, the ultraviolet sight of swifts, a newborn’s awareness of its mother’s breast—all take place in the medium of air.”
There is danger in the air, too. I didn’t know this but the artist Eva Hesse died of inhaling her fiberglass medium. Thousands were sickened after 9/11 by supposedly “safe” air. The African Sahel suffers drought in part because we fill the air with industrial dusts.
AIR. Learn more about the most ubiquitous thing of all by an author who is a certified arborist and the author of two other books: Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth and Oak: The Frame of Civilization.