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Steven Church


Steven Church is the author of The Guinness Book of Me: a Memoir of Record, Theoretical Killings: Essays and Accidents, The Day After The Day After: My Atomic AngstUltrasonic: Essays and a forthcoming fifth book of nonfiction, One with the Tiger: On Savagery and Intimacy, which will be released in Fall 2016 by Soft Skull Press. His essays have been published in Passages North, DIAGRAM, Brevity, River Teeth, The Rumpus, AGNI, The Pedestrian, Colorado Review, Creative Nonfiction, Terrain.org, and many others. He is a Founding Editor and Nonfiction Editor for the nationally recognized literary magazine, The Normal School; and he teaches in the MFA Program at Fresno State. 

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Steven Church


Steven Church is the author of The Guinness Book of Me: a Memoir of Record, Theoretical Killings: Essays and Accidents, The Day After The Day After: My Atomic AngstUltrasonic: Essays and a forthcoming fifth book of nonfiction, One with the Tiger: On Savagery and Intimacy, which will be released in Fall 2016 by Soft Skull Press. His essays have been published in Passages North, DIAGRAM, Brevity, River Teeth, The Rumpus, AGNI, The Pedestrian, Colorado Review, Creative Nonfiction, Terrain.org, and many others. He is a Founding Editor and Nonfiction Editor for the nationally recognized literary magazine, The Normal School; and he teaches in the MFA Program at Fresno State. 

"In One with the Tiger, Steven Church stalks the entire genre of nature writing, rips it down to the raw bone, then reassembles the parts into something totally new and utterly compelling. 

- Justin Hocking, author of The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld 

Through scenes devastating, inspiring, and at times, difficult to watch (read), we cannot turn away as Church imagines that space between the leap and the landing, human and animal, villain and victim. When there are no explanations, Church finds satisfaction in narrative speculation, yet he also proves that when reality is too much to bear, we’ll fight to escape the cage of an old story and scramble like hell to get back over the ledge.”

—Jill Talbot, author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir and editor of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction

 

Steven Church's new book, One with the tiger: On savagery and intimacy will be released on Nov. 15, 2016

"Muscular, vulnerable, twitchy, and relentlessly curious, Steven Church’s awesome One with the Tiger stalks some of our most absurd, sometimes-violent, and uncontainable compulsions for communion and self-destruction, and finds, lurking within them, such a fragile, funny, and heartbreaking humanity that it’s all we can do as readers to leap and leap into the exhilarating zoo pit of this book." - Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Preparing the Ghost and The Mad Feast. 

 

 

 

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One with the Tiger


On September 21, 2012, twenty-five year old David Villalobos purchased a pass for the Bronx Zoo and a ticket for a ride on the Bengali Express Monorail. Biding his time, he waited until the monorail was just near the enclosure of a four hundred pound Siberian tiger named Bashuta before leaping into it. They spent ten long minutes together in the tiger’s cage before nature took its course, with one exception: The tiger did not kill him. David’s only response: “It’s a spiritual thing. I wanted to be at one with the tiger.”

One with The Tiger: On Savagery and Intimacy uses David’s story, and other moments of violent encounters between humans and predators, to explore the line between human and animal. Exposing what the author defines as the “shared liminal space between peace and violence,” Church posits that the animal is always encroaching on the civilization —and those seeking its wildness are in fact searching for an ecstatic moment that can define what it means to be human. Using examples from Timothy Treadwell to Mike Tyson, or such television icons as Grizzly Adams and The Incredible Hulk, Church shows how this ecstasy can seep its way into the less natural world of popular culture, proving time and again that each of us can be our own worst predator.

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One with the Tiger


On September 21, 2012, twenty-five year old David Villalobos purchased a pass for the Bronx Zoo and a ticket for a ride on the Bengali Express Monorail. Biding his time, he waited until the monorail was just near the enclosure of a four hundred pound Siberian tiger named Bashuta before leaping into it. They spent ten long minutes together in the tiger’s cage before nature took its course, with one exception: The tiger did not kill him. David’s only response: “It’s a spiritual thing. I wanted to be at one with the tiger.”

One with The Tiger: On Savagery and Intimacy uses David’s story, and other moments of violent encounters between humans and predators, to explore the line between human and animal. Exposing what the author defines as the “shared liminal space between peace and violence,” Church posits that the animal is always encroaching on the civilization —and those seeking its wildness are in fact searching for an ecstatic moment that can define what it means to be human. Using examples from Timothy Treadwell to Mike Tyson, or such television icons as Grizzly Adams and The Incredible Hulk, Church shows how this ecstasy can seep its way into the less natural world of popular culture, proving time and again that each of us can be our own worst predator.

Advance Praise for One with the Tiger: On Savagery and Intimacy

"In One with the Tiger, Steven Church stalks the entire genre of nature writing, rips it down to the raw bone, then reassembles the parts into something totally new and utterly compelling. Like the best of John Krakauer or Rebecca Solnit, the narrative pulls you in and absolutely refuses to let you go—or forget. Church is writing at the very apex of his game, and One with the Tiger is likely the most innovative, disturbing, and brilliant book you'll read all year."

-- Justin Hocking, author of The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld

"Muscular, vulnerable, twitchy, and relentlessly curious, Steven Church’s awesome One with the Tiger stalks some of our most absurd, sometimes-violent, and uncontainable compulsions for communion and self-destruction, and finds, lurking within them, such a fragile, funny, and heartbreaking humanity that it’s all we can do as readers to leap and leap into the exhilarating zoo pit of this book, and to emerge as better, more baffling, and more beautiful mutants. Church’s interrogation of our cockeyed innateness braids evisceration with assurance, bite with whisper.  This book tears us open by way of acceptance, the drive to assuage, the electric and desperate urge to unearth the secrets fueling the shadowy back-alleys of our hearts.  I never wanted Church’s wild and bemused treatises on absorption, collision, truth, family, ecstasy, strange spiritual yearning and— ultimately— even stranger empathy to ever stop."

-Matthew Gavin Frank, author of The Mad Feast and Preparing the Ghost

"Some of us are born with a lust for the ledges, for any chance to make the leap. In this mesmerizing collection about the savage within each of us and the truth that “we are [often] our own worst predator,” Church dares to cross the lines between reportage and invented narrative (“the facts are just a window that opens into everything else”) just as the people he tells us about cross fences and fantasies in order to become one with the tiger, the bear, or even a man in the ring. Like the punch-to-the-face that fueled Leslie Jamison’s exploration of pain in The Empathy Exams, Church goes for broke, searching, researching, remembering and inventing—hell-bent on knowing others stories to better try to understand himself as a man, a brother, and a father. His investigation of our desire to witness savagery forces us to draw our own boundaries regarding brutality and echoes the arousal of violence and genre-blurring of Kerry Howley’s Thrown. Through scenes devastating, inspiring, and at times, difficult to watch (read), we cannot turn away as Church imagines that space between the leap and the landing, human and animal, villain and victim. When there are no explanations, Church finds satisfaction in narrative speculation, yet he also proves that when reality is too much to bear, we’ll fight to escape the cage of an old story and scramble like hell to get back over the ledge.”

—Jill Talbot, author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir and editor of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction

 

 

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Ultrasonic (essays)


Ultrasonic is a collection of linked essays that explore how sound can be used to search for deeper meaning beneath the surface of everyday life. Delving into questions of identity, family, fear, loss, and the politics of space, the book becomes an idiosyncratic exploration of identity amidst the cultural noise of contemporary life in America. Each chapter operates both as an independent essay and as an echo chamber for larger ideas, and it gazes at our human predicament through such varied lenses as trapped miners, stethoscopes, racquetball, language, loitering, violence, Elvis, and the music of torture. Weaving narrative and thematic threads into a richly layered collage-like tapestry, Ultrasonic functions as a sound map of Church’s consciousness and as a lyrical memoir of fatherhood. 

 

“If you liked Leslie Jamison’s Empathy Exams or Charles D’Ambrosio’s Loitering, try Steven Church’s latest collection, Ultrasonic, a group of essays brought together by the theme of sound. Church at times seems to say, I make noise, therefore I am. He dissects the nature of sound waves in a racquetball court, counts the seconds between lightning and thunder, and listens for signs of life from trapped miners—and his digressions invariably come back around to sucker punch you. Church uses sound to explore notions of masculinity and fatherhood, love and death.”

— The Paris Review

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Ultrasonic (essays)


Ultrasonic is a collection of linked essays that explore how sound can be used to search for deeper meaning beneath the surface of everyday life. Delving into questions of identity, family, fear, loss, and the politics of space, the book becomes an idiosyncratic exploration of identity amidst the cultural noise of contemporary life in America. Each chapter operates both as an independent essay and as an echo chamber for larger ideas, and it gazes at our human predicament through such varied lenses as trapped miners, stethoscopes, racquetball, language, loitering, violence, Elvis, and the music of torture. Weaving narrative and thematic threads into a richly layered collage-like tapestry, Ultrasonic functions as a sound map of Church’s consciousness and as a lyrical memoir of fatherhood. 

 

“If you liked Leslie Jamison’s Empathy Exams or Charles D’Ambrosio’s Loitering, try Steven Church’s latest collection, Ultrasonic, a group of essays brought together by the theme of sound. Church at times seems to say, I make noise, therefore I am. He dissects the nature of sound waves in a racquetball court, counts the seconds between lightning and thunder, and listens for signs of life from trapped miners—and his digressions invariably come back around to sucker punch you. Church uses sound to explore notions of masculinity and fatherhood, love and death.”

— The Paris Review

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I'm Just Getting to the Disturbing Part


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I'm Just Getting to the Disturbing Part


I’m Just Getting to the Disturbing Part follows the author’s time in Arizona and Colorado working as a tour guide at a gold mine and at the Meteor Crater Natural Landmark, as well as his stint as a Maintenance Man in a ski town and eventually his role as a professor and father. Detailing his struggles to make his relationship work and to find a safe place to call home, the book follows Church and his young family through several moves between different houses and different states, chronicling family life and fatherhood in a post-9/11 world filled with new threats and fears, some of which are manufactured and others of seem to arise organically from the constantly shifting landscape. Shaped by odd facts, interesting history, narrative suspense, and tragedy, I’m Just Getting to the Disturbing Part stitches together themes of work, love, fatherhood and fear into a richly patterned, humorous, and emotionally resonant memoir-in-essays.

 


 

The title chapter of the book has been anthologized annually in the textbook, The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction, and is taught in writing classrooms across the country. It follows the young married couple down from the mountains to the Front Range of Colorado and to Fort Collins, a place regularly voted one of the best places to live in America. The essay marries form and content in a looping, suspense-filled, emotionally powerful consideration of loss and tragedy through the lens of a drowning that the author witnessed. 

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The Parkfield Project


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The Parkfield Project


The "Parkfield Project" is a book project focused on the small town of Parkfield, California, the self-proclaimed, Earthquake Capital of the World. Located in the Cholame Valley, and on the boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates, Parkfield is home to the USGS's Parkfield Experiment, a long-running experiment in earthquake prediction, and of more seismic sensing technology than anywhere in North America. Home to firefighters and artists, entrepreneurs and eccentrics, the Cholame is owned in large part by two families, the Hearsts and the Varians, each with their own indelible imprint on the history of California and of the country. 

Please check out the page, "Online Publications," for some selections from this project.