Shortlisted, Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Award
Warm, imaginative, and thoroughly original, this memoir intertwines the mysteries of trees with the defining moments in the life of novelist and essayist Theresa Kishkan. For Kishkan, trees are memory markers of life, and in this book she explores the presence of trees in nature, in culture and in her personal history. Naming each chapter for a particular tree — the Garry oak, the Ponderosa pine, the silver olive, the Plane tree, the Arbutus, and others — she draws on Pliny the Elder's Natural History, John Evelyn's Sylva, and strands of mythology from other classical and contemporary sources to blend scientific fact with natural history and the artifacts of human culture. Never pedantic and always accessible, Mnemonic "reveals — through one woman's relationship with the natural world — how all of us have roots that intertwine with the broader world, tapping deep into the rich well of universal themes. In the words of Pliny the Elder, "Hence it is right to follow the natural order, to speak about trees before other things . . ."