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‘World of Wonders’: A look into the wonders of nature

| Thursday, March 11, 2021

Maggie Klaers | The Observer

Imagine for me, if you will, the scent of a corpse flower. It likens to a pile of diapers rotting in the sun, mixed with rotten blue cheese dressing. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the pleasure of smelling this infamous stench, but this is the description according to Aimee Nezhukumatathil in her new book of prose, “World of Wonders.”

Nezhukumatathil encapsulates us as she takes us through a literal world of wonders. For those familiar with the world of poetry, we are used to seeing Nezhukumatathil write in stanzas — most recently in “Oceanic” — about the delicate animals of the ocean and the ways in which they relate to the world we live in.

Similarly, in “World of Wonders,” Nezhukumatathil finds herself connecting to flowers, trees, whale sharks and other forms of life in nature, as well as to her own world, and to memories of her past through a series of short essays. Never before have I read something in this braided prose style that so beautifully connects nature to simple events that occur for so many of us.

One of my favorite essays from “World of Wonders” is “Axolotl.” Nezhukumatathil beautifully weaves her essay by displaying the struggles of being a “brown girl” in the midst of “white girls,” telling her which color looks best on her lips. The way Nezhukumatathil relates herself to an axolotl is remarkable, and we are able to find a way to relate to her experience, even if we don’t immediately identify with her.

I truly have no criticism for this piece other than one essay that seems out of place: “Calendars Poetica.” This essay is placed in the middle of “World of Wonders” and has some to do with nature, but it is not explicitly about one animal. Rather, it is about the “art of poetry” and her firstborn child.

Overall, “World of Wonders” is an exceptional piece if you’re looking for a quick read or even just to learn about parts of nature you’ve never heard of — in my case, the corpse flower. Any reader is sure to find something they connect with in this pile of prose and will not be disappointed.

And for those of you that would like to learn more about Aimee Nezhukumatathil, register here to hear her read from “World of Wonders” at Saint Mary’s College on March 11 at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A session.

Book: “World of Wonders”

Author: Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Favorite chapters: “Corpse Flower,” “Axolotl”

If you liked: “Oceanic”

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

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About Lexi Kilcoin

Lexi is an aspiring journalist studying Creative Writing at Saint Mary's and is apart of the Journalism program at Notre Dame. She loves all things The Office and is sure to start a conversation with anyone she meets.

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