2017 Viola Award Nominee for Excellence in Storytelling
Five essays on pets—a dog, a bird, a tortoise, a ferret, and a chameleon—anchor this wild menagerie, exploring childhood spirituality, global positioning systems, wildlife conservation, and climate change. In a wide range of tones and styles, from lyric to visual, photojournalism to collage, The Well-Stocked and Gilded Cage swings between Pennsylvania, Nepal, California, Cambodia, Arizona, Myanmar, Delaware, and Bangladesh. One essay in particular, is set in Seligman, Arizona, and is concerned with the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret to the sage-steppe of the Colorado Plateau.
The essays in the collection were published in national literary journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, BOAAT, Fourteen Hills, Fourth Genre, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Passages North, Prairie Schooner, SundogLit, Territory, and Wag’s Revue. “Dogsucker: The Written Oral” was selected as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2016, compiled by Jonathan Franzen and Robert Atwan. “Give Me That For Nothing, Now I Am Going Away” was selected as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2015, compiled by Ariel Levy and David Atwan. “Of No Ground: Late Days In the Country of Eighteen Tides,” about the flood-prone Sundarbans of Southern Bangladesh, was selected as Terrain’s 6th Annual Creative Nonfiction Award by Scott Russell Sanders, and the titular essay, “The Well-Stocked and Gilded Cage,” won Prairie Schooner’s 2016 Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing.
Lawrence Lenhart studied writing at the University of Pittsburgh and received his M.F.A. from the University of Arizona. He is a professor of fiction, creative nonfiction, and playwriting at Northern Arizona University, where he also co-teaches a climate fiction workshop in the Honors College. Essays from his first book, The Well-Stocked and Gilded Cage (Outpost19), have been named Notable Essays in Best American Essays 2015 and 2016. His writing appears in Fourth Genre, Greensboro Review, Gulf Coast, Passages North, Prairie Schooner, Western Humanities Review, and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book-length essay about the reintroduction of North America’s most endangered mammal species, the black-footed ferret, to the Colorado Plateau, as well as a book of 39 hybrid fictions about small island states. Lenhart serves as the reviews editor and assistant fiction editor of DIAGRAM.
“At the least unhinged and quite possibly a little insane, Lawrence Lenhart’s essays are perverse in the best way, willing to sacrifice whatever (self-protection, sleep, comfort, love, safety, tradition) in search of the weird heart beating inside the world and the real meaning of things. Lenhart’s a legitimate threat: a yearner and a quester. Ain’t no cage, however gilded, can hold this bird for long.” – Ander Monson, author of Letter to A Future Lover
“There are books with turtles in them. And books with dogs. And books about bullies. And books about hoarding birds. There are books about Bangladesh and books about the end of the world but I do not think there is another book that pulls back the veil to reveal how woven together dogs, bullies, birds, babies and Bangladesh are. Lenhart does something in The Well-Stocked and Gilded Cage that only someone with a special kind of genius can do: train his focus as sharply inward as he does outward. Intense awareness combined with his intense concern make for a big heart and a big brain and a big, as in important, book.” – Nicole Walker, author of Micrograms and Viola Award-winning Quench Your Thirst With Salt