cover of book

Heart Of The Sound
by Marybeth Holleman
University of Utah Press, 2004
Cloth: 978-0-87480-791-2 | Paper: 978-0-87480-843-8
Library of Congress Classification F912.P97H65 2004
Dewey Decimal Classification 917.98/3


"You can’t step in the same river twice—although I once believed I could. I believed that the pieces of my life I had chosen, those I held close to my heart, would, once chosen and held, remain the same."—from the book

How does one recover from disaster? That question is at the heart of Marybeth Holleman’s lyrical, elegiac response to the repercussions of the Exxon Valdez oil spill that devastated Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. Twining together the destruction of an ecosystem and the disintegration of her marriage, Holleman explores the resiliency of nature—both wild and human—and the ways in which that resiliency is tested. Like the oil that remains pooled beneath rocks years after the tanker spill, the emotional wounds of the past lie just below the surface. Recovery and restoration from the pain wrought by human hands does not come easily.

If much of nature writing is about the heart’s search for an unspoiled, perfect landscape, The Heart of the Sound is about what happens when the return-to-paradise fantasy is over and paradise is lost. In language rich with passion and hard-won insight, Holleman creates a captivating picture of a woman who found her Eden in the sweeping fjords of Alaska only to lose it to ecological tragedy. But somewhere within that loss, she finds herself.


Marybeth Holleman teaches creative writing, women's studies, and literature at the University of Alaska and has published essays, articles, and poetry in various journals and anthologies.

    Prologue xi
    Part I
    Parts Unknown: 1986 3
     Duck: Culross Island 000
    Locus Amatus: 1986-1988 000
     Thunder: Blackstone Bay 000
    Part II
    Struck: 1989 000
     Goat: Culross Passage 000
    Blood on the Hands: 1989 000
     Seas: Port Wells 000
    Awakening: 1991 000
     Swim: Jackpot Stream 000
    Rising Tides: 1993 000
     Nellie Juan: Derickson Bay 000
    Storm Warning: 1994 000
     Wet: West Twin Bay 000
    Ashes: 1996 000
     Observation Point: Perry Island 000
    Part III
     Fireweed: Alaganik Slough 000
    Bull's-Eye: 1996 000
     Communicating: South Culross 000
    Restoration: 1997 000
     Clouds: Port Fidalgo 000
    In This Light: 1997 000
     Otter: Mink Island 000
    AB Pod: 1997 000
     Bear: Picturesque Cove 000
    Scars We Notice: 1997-1999 000
     Hummingbird: Harrison Lagoon 000
    Paradise Falls: 1999 000
    Epilogue 000
    Acknowledgments 000
    About the Author 000

    Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication: Prince William Sound Region (Alaska) Description and travel, Natural history Alaska Prince William Sound Region, Holleman, Marybeth, Prince William Sound Region (Alaska) Biography, Prince William Sound Region (Alaska) Environmental conditions, Exxon Valdez (Ship)Oil spills Alaska Prince William Sound Region History 20th century

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