About a Mountain (Hardcover)
I picked up this book because of its canary-yellow jacket and interesting typography; I didn't realize until I started the first chapter, that About a Mountain is, actually, about a mountain - Yucca Mountain, specifically, 90 miles outside Las Vegas, and the proposed site of a plan that would entomb America's 77,000 tons of nuclear waste for 10,000 years. It would have been easy to merely rant about what an absurdly bad idea it is to store nuclear waste inside a mountain, but essayist D'Agata is much too sophisticated for that. Instead, he teases out the realities of the astonishing plan via linguists, geologists, cultural anthropologists, transportation experts and the like and, in the process, opens up a discussion about "the fragility of our capacity to know," definitively, anything about anything in the grand scheme of things. It's an impressive feat and stylishly done. -- Kim Okamura— From August 2010
Yet as the contradictions inherent in Yucca's story are revealed, D'Agata's investigation turns inevitably personal. He finds himself investigating the death of a teenager who jumps off the tower of the Stratosphere Hotel, a boy whom D'Agata believes he spoke with before his suicide.
Here is the work of a penetrating thinker whose startling portrait of a mountain in the desert compels a reexamination of the future of human life.