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Piano Tide

A Novel

List Price: $16.95

December 12, 2017 | Paperback | 5.5 x 8.25, 240 Pages | ISBN 9781619025721
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2017 WILLA Literary Award Winner in Contemporary Fiction
Short-listed for the ASLE Environmental Creative Book Award 

“Moore writes so eloquently and with such passion about the natural world . . . that she leaves the reader in wonder and awe.” ―Booklist, starred review

In Piano Tide, the debut novel by award-winning naturalist, philosopher, activist, and author Kathleen Dean Moore, we are introduced to town father Axel Hagerman, who has made a killing in the remote Alaskan town of Good River Harbor by selling off the spruce, the cedar, the herring, and the halibut. But when he decides to export the water from a salmon stream, he runs headlong into young Nora Montgomery, just arrived on the ferry with her piano and her dog. Nora has burned her bridges in the Lower 48, and she aims to disappear into this new homeland, with her piano as her anchor. But when Axel’s next business proposition, a bear pit, turns lethal, Nora has to act. The clash, when it comes, is a spectacular and transformative act of resistance.

KATHLEEN DEAN MOORE is best known for her books of nature-focused essays—Riverwalking: Reflections on Moving Water, winner of the 1995 Pacific Northwest Book Award; Holdfast: At Home in the Natural World, recipient of the 1999 Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award; The Pine Island Paradox, winner of the 2004 Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction;Wild Comfort, finalist for the same award; and Great Tide Rising (Counterpoint, 2016).


“This is award-winning naturalist, philosopher, and climate activist Moore’s first foray into fiction, and it is not only a remarkably thoughtful and compelling look at the threats to endangered species and the willful destruction of the environment but also a thoroughly engaging tale featuring vividly drawn characters who grab our interest from the very first pages . . . Moore writes so eloquently and with such passion about the natural world, from tiny tide pool inhabitants to giant grizzlies and towering hemlocks, that she leaves the reader in wonder and awe.”   —Booklist, starred review

Piano Tide joins Ken Kesey’s Sailor Song as one of the great novels of Alaska and its convoluted coast and history.  A small group of people making a life in a village by the sea:  this is Kathy Moore’s canvas, and she paints a really beautiful, intense, funny and lively portrait of Nora and her new neighbors. How to live in this world? Moore lets us ponder this by way of a great story, in this marvelous debut novel.” —Kim Stanley Robinson, author of Years of Rice and Salt

“I think Kathleen Dean Moore can do anything—including write a savagely funny and deeply insightful novel of the tidepool and rainforest country she knows so well!” —Bill McKibben author Eaarth

Piano Tide captures with remarkable perception the beauty of Alaska, the environmental conflicts that tear at and unite communities, and the interconnectedness of all things. You’ll be swept into this world as if by a turning tide, and you will love the characters—human and otherwise—you find there. Moore writes from deep knowledge and empathy, with an open heart.” —Nancy Lord, author of Fishcamp, Beluga Days, and Early Warming, and former Alaska Writer Laureate

“Piano Tide
 is a rare beauty, a novel whose deeply flawed characters are written with compassion and insight; a book vibrating with drama and lyrical prose side-by-side with hard-hitting questions that ask how earth—and all life on earth—will survive uncompromising capitalism. Moore introduces the philosophical ‘Problem of Unnecessary Beauty’—why beauty in nature sometimes thrives for no apparent reason. But Piano Tide is a necessary beauty. You may read it in one sitting; but when you turn that last page, you’ll want to stand up for the things we share: this earth, this life, this wild and enduring hope.”   —BK Loren, author of Theft and Animal, Mineral, Radical

“In Piano Tide, Kathleen Dean Moore has given us a an action adventure, a lesson in the natural history of Southeast Alaska, and a cast of unforgettable backwoods characters. As Pacific tides rise and fall, almost engulfing the hamlet called Good River Harbor, we witness humans as well as bears, salmon, and the forest itself, fighting to survive amid forces of man-made destruction and nature’s renewal.  Piano Tide is a fine read, sure to join the ranks of Ed Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang on the eco/thriller bookshelf.”  —Annick Smith, author of Crossing the Plains with Bruno and Homestead 

 “With Piano Tide, Kathleen Dean Moore proves herself the rare writer at home in both the novel and nonfiction. Her debut novel evokes Alaska’s silvery bears and clouds as vividly as her beloved nature writing, with beguiling characters bound by tide and moral compromise in a fishing village at the end of the world. Moore’s story will have you rooting for not only piano-toting Nora, but an entire landscape and all its life. Masterfully told and full of heart, Piano Tide is one of those books you can’t stop thinking about for days after you’ve turned the final page.” —Cynthia Barnett, author of Rain: A Natural and Cultural History

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