Join the Libraries and the English Department for a reading by Ben Pladek '07 from his new book, Dry Land!
This will be a hybrid event; Zoom link forthcoming.
917, Wisconsin. A decade after lumbering has devastated the forests of the upper Midwest, an idealistic young forester named Rand Brandt discovers he has a magic power: his touch can grow any plant in minutes. Overjoyed, he dreams of devoting his life to conservation. When Rand confides in his new lover Gabriel, he begs Rand to regrow his family’s drought-scourged farm. Rand can’t refuse. When the US Forest Service drafts Rand to grow timber for the war, he can’t refuse either—though Gabriel’s been drafted too, and the army is a dangerous place for men in love.
Then a week before boot camp, Rand realizes everything he grows dies within days. Horrified, he scrambles to learn how to control his power, throwing himself into self-destructive trials, raising trees until he blacks out. Determined to keep his promises, he conceals his efforts from Gabriel and the Forest Service, even as he’s deployed to France to begin growing pine.
But as the war intensifies, Rand’s efforts grow too desperate to hide. Worse yet, Europe’s forests, unnatural but beautiful, start to shake his faith in the one thing he thought he understood: wilderness itself. As Rand’s lies shatter around him, he must confront the terrifying possibility that he might never master his power—a prospect that upends everything he believes about nature, love, and himself.