HITTING SHELVES #12: Man V. Nature by Diane Cook

Man v. Nature

Man V. Nature by Diane Cook comes out today!

It’s one of the most anticipated books of the season: a debut collection of impossible, all-too-believable stories about baby snatchers, a forest of lost boys, and a flood at the end of the world. In “The Mast Year,” a woman experiences the same kind of boom harvest that certain trees do, when they grow fat with more fruit and nuts than usual–but in her case, it takes the form of a promotion, great sex, and hordes of people camped out on her front lawn like woodland creatures, desperate to gorge on her incredible luck. You can read “Marrying Up” for free at Guernica, and “Girl on Girl” here at Granta. Either one will make Diane Cook one of your new favorite writers.

We asked the author one question.

How are you celebrating the publication of Man V. Nature?

Diane Cook: I think I’ll go for a hike in the morning because I like doing that. My husband and I just moved to the Bay Area. We had lived in Brooklyn for ten years. I always wanted to live in a place where I could get outside whenever I wanted, walk in the woods. Brooklyn was not that place. Here, I have wonderful parks and hiking 15 minutes away and I don’t even have to get on a highway. But I think I’ll go the extra distance to somewhere really special. Somewhere just far enough away that it feels like a special occasion. Probably Point Reyes. I’ll do my usual hikey things–look at stuff, get short of breath, think about things. Then, back at home, if I’ve got my head on straight I’ll try to write this essay I said I’d write. If I don’t, I’ll walk a circuit between my kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, pick up something with the idea that I’m cleaning, then put it back down, accomplishing nothing. Then I’ll head to The Booksmith in San Francisco for my reading and book party. I’ll be nervous because I’ve never been the reason for an event before and I’ll worry that no one will come. But people will be there and it’ll be fun. Then, hopefully, old friends and new friends will have a drink with me. Then my husband and I will take an Uber or cab back because BART will have stopped running, and we’ll sleep.

Diane Cook
Diane Cook

But I know before any of this happens, it’ll be the morning of the day my first book comes out. The alarm will go off and I’m certain my husband will turn to me and be so sweet and proud and he will look at me with so much love and joy and I’ll say thank you and smile and then try to wave it all away and insist it is a normal day. I’ve never been more proud and I’m happy and excited, but I feel it in a different way than I imagined I would, or than how I used to feel, long ago, when any evidence that this would become a real book in the world made my heart go bananas. My cover! A blurb?!?! My first proof! The galley! When the final hardcover book showed up, I had a lovely moment with it, appreciated how beautiful it was, leafed through it, scolded myself over a typo… ok, two typos. Then, put it down. I probably didn’t touch it again for a week or more. There was this way that the final book no longer felt like my book. I’m not sure I can explain it, except to say that I’m a writer, but there was nothing left to write in that book. Now it’s the book readers will pick up in a bookstore, buy, hopefully love and lend, or use as a door stop, spill coffee on, throw at someone in a rage, try to sell to a used book story for a dollar, or, let slip behind the bed, then find it during a cleaning jaunt and return to it again and find something new. It’s their book now. My book was that first unruly paper proof that I marked with a red colored pencil like a child, back when I could still wonder if one word was better than another, or if I was saying too much in one moment, or not enough. My book was late nights knowing a story wasn’t working but not knowing how to fix it. My book was rereading a story for the 1000th time and loving it, and wondering if anyone else ever would. I think the last few months have been a slow letting go. Still so proud, still so excited, but so happy it’s out of my hands.

Get Man V. Nature here.

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