In the Air Tonight

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Over at Guernica, Jennifer Baum explores the poetics and the politics of soot, interweaving stories of her childhood growing up in a deeply polluted New York with a timeline of environmental laws and stats:

The flakes of black soot, which drifted onto our terrace like snow was particulate matter comprised mostly of carbon and sulfur dioxide, the result of burning fossils fuels. The interior of our apartment was dirty too, black soot coating our windowsills and baseboard heaters. The asthma I developed as a kid, and with which I struggle today, likely could’ve resulted from breathing in “suspended particulates… settling into the deep recesses of the lungs.”


Theodora Messalas is a New York-based writer and editor who could easily be talked into going to grad school. More from this author →