Eco-conscious readers! I am happy to relate that “Natural Histories,” my profile of conservationist Çağan Şekercioğlu and his badass Kars-based NGO, is on newsstands now in the October 24 issue of the New Yorker, with photography by superstar Carolyn Drake.
I think Çağan was not super-happy with the above photo, because the bird had started to fly away before he had completely released it, and apparently it might look to a bird professional as if he had been holding it wrong. In fact he was holding it fine and nobody’s leg got broken, least of all that of the bird.
The cotton candy didn’t even try to fly away:
Click here for an outtake from the story, plus another very beautiful photograph.
I leave you today with a short excerpt from “Natural Histories” which, in addition to describing Çağan’s work, is also actually kind of an ecopoetry-inspired essay about the nature and culture of Kars. Here is where the big literary guns come in:
Pamuk, unlike Pushkin, was not a formative writer for me. For many years, I even thought that, despite being a writer of Turkish descent, I might live my whole life without reading any of his novels. My first inkling that this would not be possible came in 2008, when I was interviewed for the first time by a Turkish newspaper. The interview was about the band Vampire Weekend, but the reporter still required my opinions on Turkey’s only Nobelist. My answer appeared as a subhead, in all caps: “I WAS UNABLE TO FINISH PAMUK.”
In subsequent interviews, I was asked not only about Pamuk but about my inability to finish Pamuk.
“You know, everyone always asks about this,” I told one journalist this spring. “Why don’t we talk about something else?”
“I’ll tell you why,” she said. “None of us can finish Pamuk, but you’re the only one who says so openly.”
Well, I never had set out to become a national spokesperson for the inability to finish Orhan Pamuk. So I went to the library and checked out Pamuk’s most Russian book—the one he conceived as a “Dostoyevskian political novel” and set in the shadow of the gigantic architectural emanation of Pushkin’s mother-in-law.