an A to Z and Other Essays about Geology,

Geography, and Geo-Travel in the American West

Neil Mathison

128 pp., 6 x 9, Paperback


June 2017




Winner of the 2016 Monadnock Essay Collection Prize

Neil Mathison’s writing explores the many ways in which the physical world influences our lives. He muses on heritage, boats, and the sea; ponders how living in the shadow of a volcano shapes a person; and ties the physical world to deeper themes of human life, such as relationships and personal tragedies.


In this collection of unified essays Neil Mathison effortlessly draws parallels between geological upheavals and upheavals in the lives of his friends, partners, and family. Rich in the history of geology and cartography, these pieces explore the ever-shifting earth and carefully map the inner landscapes of a handful of its inhabitants.

—Bernard Cooper, author of My Avant-Garde Education

Geology is the story of change over time. So, too, are Mathison’s beautifully written travels across the landscapes of geography, family, marriage, love, catastrophe, and resilience. Volcano: An A to Z is a book to be read and returned to again and again.

—Adrienne Ross Scanlan, author of
Turning Homeward: Restoring Nature in the Urban Wild


Neil Mathison is an essayist and short story writer who lives in Seattle, Washington, Friday Harbor, Washington, and Ketchum, Idaho. A US Naval Academy graduate, he has been a naval officer, a nuclear engineer, an expatriate businessman living in Hong Kong, a corporate vice president, and a stay-at-home-dad. His work has appeared in The Ontario Review, Kenyon Review, Georgia Review, Southern Humanities Review, North American Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Agni, Under the Sun, -divide-, Bellowing Ark, Pangolin Papers, Blue Mesa Review, Blue Lyra Review, Blue Lake Review, Moon City Review, Cold Mountain Review, Rappahannock Review, Brooklyner, and elsewhere. The title essay of this collection, “Volcano: An A to Z,” was recognized as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2010. A second essay, “Wooden Boat,” was recognized as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2013. Mathison’s short story, “The Cannery,” won the 2013 Fiction Attic short story contest and was published in Modern Shorts: 18 Short Stories from Fiction Attic Press.