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A miniature city constructed entirely of trash. An Explorer’s Club, where an artist transforms conquest to artifice through the striking use of color. A squirrel cage where dead and poisoned thoughts ricochet like Bingo balls. A forest growing inside a gallery, complete with a living raccoon.
These are just a few of the modern art landscapes, real and imaged, in Amy Benson’s Seven Years to Zero, a collection of linked vignettes that blurs the line between fiction and memoir. In a narrative divided into seven years, the collection traces on couple’s move from the suburbs to the metropolis, and their struggle with the decision of having a child in a world of factories, earthquakes, pollution, extinction, nuclear fallout and uncertain future. Through the lens of one couple, one city, and one child, Benson explores how art shapes awareness, and how awareness shapes our understanding of our place in a changing world.
Amy Benson is the author of The Sparkling-Eyed Boy (Houghton Mifflin 2004), winner of the Bakeless Prize in creative nonfiction, sponsored by Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Recent work has appeared in journals such as Agni, BOMB, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, PANK, and Triquarterly. She has taught creative writing at Columbia University and Fordham University and will join the writing faculty at Rhodes College in Memphis in the fall. She was a fellow at Bread Loaf and a resident at Ledig House International, and is the co-founder of the First Person Plural Reading Series in Harlem.