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Published on Jun 2, 2008
The Authors@Google program was pleased to welcome author Ginger Strand to Google's NY office to discuss her new book "Inventing Niagra".
Ginger Strand grew up in Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, but mostly on a farm in Michigan. She has published essays and fiction in many places, including Harper's, The Believer, The Iowa Review, The Gettysburg Review, Swink, Raritan, The New England Review, and Orion, where she is a contributing editor. A former fellow in the Behrman Center for the Humanities at Princeton, she has received residency grants from The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the American Antiquarian Society, as well as a Tennessee Williams scholarship in fiction from the Sewanee Writers' Conference. She lives in New York City.
"Niagara Falls is where America discovered the sublime. And Ginger Strand has discovered everything that happened since. If you want to understand our relationship with the natural world, you better read this book." Americans call Niagara Falls a natural wonder, but the Falls aren't very natural anymore. In fact, they are a study in artifice. Water diverted, riverbed reshaped, brink stabilized and landscape redesigned, the Falls are more a monument to man's meddling than to nature's strength. Held up as an example of something real, they are hemmed in with fakery -- waxworks, haunted houses, IMAX films and ersatz Indian tales. A symbol of American manifest destiny, they are shared politely with Canada. Emblem of nature's power, they are completely human-controlled. Archetype of natural beauty, they belie an ugly environmental legacy still bubbling up from below. On every level, Niagara Falls is a monument to how America falsifies nature, reshaping its contours and redirecting its force while claiming to submit to its will. Combining history, reportage and personal narrative, Inventing Niagara traces Niagara's journey from sublime icon to engineering marvel to camp spectacle. Along the way, Ginger Strand uncovers the hidden history of America's waterfall: the Mohawk chief who wrested the Falls from his adopted tribe, the revered town father who secretly assisted slave catchers, the wartime workers who unknowingly helped build the Bomb and the building contractor who bought and sold a pharaoh. With an uncanny ability to zero in on the buried truth, Strand introduces us to underwater dams, freaks of nature, mythical maidens and 280,000 radioactive mice buried at Niagara.
Find out more about Ginger and her work at: www.gingerstrand.com