A dynamic collection of essays and reportage, The Green Season illustrates daily life in Costa Rica, a tiny Central American nation dedicated to peace and teeming with tropical life. With his trademark humor and observation, Robert Isenberg describes the people, culture, and biodiversity that make Costa Rica so unique—from a centuries-old indigenous ceremony to a remote jungle crisscrossed by crocodile-filled canals. Isenberg explores the country head-on, fighting his way through San José traffic, mingling with venomous snakes, and even making a cameo in an epic soccer film at the height of World Cup fever. Richly detailed and tenderly written, The Green Season is one expat’s love letter to his adoptive homeland.
“In another era, Isenberg would have been striding the Hindu Kush as a solo adventurer on the Great Game, perhaps; or, like Lawrence of Arabia, following a Bedouin tribe in the Sahara; or, like my hero, William Dampier, setting off across the ‘flat’ horizon to chronicle the discoveries of uncharted lands. And we would have seen all these things through his eyes, been thoroughly bewitched by them and even tempted to follow in his footsteps. At the same time, Isenberg is very much a writer of today. He visits places that many of us are familiar with, but uncovers secrets, stories and anecdotes about them that most of us would ignore, overlook or miss entirely.” – Caroline Kennedy, Author of How the English Establishment Framed Stephen Ward
What ever happened to Yugoslavia? Thirteen years after the cease-fire, writer Robert Isenberg explores five countries by bus, bike, and foot, to see what has become of these countries once crippled by genocidal war and largely forgotten by the American consciousness. He discovers tense borders, active minefields, secret tunnels, and cities scarred by artillery but also proud peoples quietly struggling to survive in the New Europe. The Archipelago is an epic story of violence and courage, war and peace, set against the breathtaking landscape of the Balkan Peninsula.
“In the spirit of Paul Theroux, Robert Isenberg takes us on an informative, spirited and sometimes comic journey into the heart of the Balkans. You can’t finish this book without being moved by the landscape, the culture, and especially, the people Isenberg encounters along the way. With the skill of a master storyteller, he creates a narrative that’s hard to put down, and when you’re finished, you are closer to understanding this ‘nervous string’ of countries.” — Sheryl St. Germain
“Isenberg is a warm and witty travel companion. He is quick to chuckle at his own misadventures… The Archipelago combines the best of the travel-writing, history and personal-memoir genres. It’s a journey not to be missed.” — Kristofer Collins, Pittsburgh Magazine
“A fresh work of travel writing, a sort of intellectual pilgrimage… the descriptions of the various cities and countries are painted with slow strokes, building a complete and individual image that the reader can understand… Isenberg takes his cues from the people, passing along a palpable optimism that kept me reading to the last inspiring note.” — Caleb Tankersley, New Pages
Journeying by foot, train, boat and bicycle, Robert Isenberg chronicles the sights and sounds of four continents, from windswept outback to teeming megacities. Here we meet drifters, cavaliers, streetwalkers and saints, observed with the eye of a journalist and the soul of a playwright. Written over the course of a decade, Wander celebrates the global family, in all its horror and beauty.
It’s 1921, and the Jazz Age is in full swing. But behind the boisterous veneer, malevolence lurks: An airship overrun by seductive killers. An asylum filled with living dead. A mysterious doctor with a secret language. Only one hero has the guts and gusto to face these horrors—Elizabeth Crowne, Uncannologist. Witty and suspenseful, The Mysterious Tongue of Dr. Vermilion collects five Elizabeth Crowne stories, plunging the reader into kaleidoscopic mystery and Radium Age adventure. From the sultry nightclubs of Cuba to the cobblestone streets of Pittsburgh, Elizabeth probes the paranormal—and gives death a run for its money.
“Elizabeth Crowne, Uncannologist, is a treasure: a quick-witted, brash heroine whose dry humor and no-nonsense attitude serves her well in a world where Prohibition really isn’t the biggest problem looming. A reader couldn’t ask for a better combination than the one found in Dr. Vermilion – an incredibly enjoyable heroine, her plucky sidekick (ladies kicking butt and taking names in 1921! Yes!), and a collection of stories that sparkle with lush description and carefully-crafted plots against the backdrop of one of the best cities in the world. Do yourself a favor: read it. You’ll want to travel with Elizabeth far past the last page – which comes all too soon.” — Megan O’Neill, author of (Baseball) Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend
Forty-six writers explore the range of the contemporary essay, including Jimmy Santiago Baca, Toi Derricotte, Robert Isenberg, Jamaica Kincaid, Phillip Lopate, Dinty W. Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Sheryl St. Germain, John Edgar Wideman.
Between Song and Story celebrates the contemporary essay’s capacity to live between the two worlds of lyric and narrative. The editors have sought to capture that duality in this anthology, a collection of writings that exemplifies the diverse, exuberant, and intrepid forms of the contemporary essay.
(Isenberg’s essay, “We Are Greyhound,” was runner-up for the nonfiction prize and included in the anthology. The lyrical essay documents travel by Greyhound, describing a range of sights and personalities—from a former Colombian smuggler in Vermont to a confused Vietnamese woman dragged from the bus in Los Angeles. The essay is a vivid and unflinching account of lower-class American life).
(Contributed short essay about biking the Great Allegheny Passage).
Former music editor for the Pittsburgh City Paper, Dan Eldridge provides a quirky look at Pittsburgh, from visiting the Andy Warhol Museum to grabbing a beer at a hipster bar in South Side. With expert writers, first-rate strategic advice, and an essential dose of humor, Moon guidebooks are the cure for the common trip.
This book is filled with romance—twenty passionate love affairs between people and a place. Twenty Pittsburgh writers explore their relationship to their city through all genres of writing: A marathon of pierogi making in Clairton. Screaming motorcycle sex on the South Side. Climbing the walls towering over the Mon. Discovering life on the tiny balconies of Oakland. Twenty love letters addressed to our secret jewel, from everyone among its beautiful cracked hills.
Featuring the work of Creative Nonfiction founder and NEA fellow Lee Gutkind, winner of the Pablo Neruda Prize for poetry Jan Beatty, and eight-time novelist and Drue Heinz award-winner Stewart O’Nan.
“Pittsburgh Love Stories delineates romance and pathos not only for a culturally and scenically endowed city like PGH, PA, but for any mid-sized American city and her denizens. A historical, socio-economic, political—and most importantly, personal—chronicle of this industrial mecca.” –BarnesandNoble.com