A must read, perfect for a weekend. I usually don’t review short stories and this is just a little over 100 pages. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, short stories are a very well-established genre. Mackey has written a story with prose that flows like poetry. The story’s claim to fame is the first to explore eco-feminism before ecology was even a word. To me it’s just a very well-written story. Beautiful even in tragedy.
Isolated in a remote field station in the middle of a tropical rainforest in the late 1960’s, a young woman named Kirsten rebels against traditional female roles and wages a desperate struggle for intellectual, spiritual, personal, and sexual liberation from her biologist husband who views her as a piece of property and the creatures of the rainforest as specimens to be killed, stuffed, and catalogued. The result of this tangle of adultery and relentless tropical heat leads to murder, but of an unexpected victim.
First published in 1972 by Alta Gerry’s legendary Shameless Hussy Press, Mary Mackey’s Immersion was a ground-breaking novel written in a style simultaneously cinematic, poetic, and hallucinatory.
In an era when “ecology” was a word so unfamiliar that some were still spelling it “ekology,” Mackey chose to make the ecology of the tropical rain forests of Costa Rica one of her primary themes, depicting the beauty and fragility of a complex natural ecosystem endangered by human incursions. In many ways, Kirsten seems more a woman of the early twenty-first century than a woman of her own time, and in creating her, Mackey gives us a vision of the early stages of Second Wave feminism. Immersion was the first feminist novel published by a Second Wave feminist press, and is thus quite possibly the first eco-feminist novel ever published.
Related through her father’s family to Mark Twain, Mary Mackey graduated from Harvard and received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan. During her twenties, she lived in the rain forests of Costa Rica. Her published works include thirteen novels and six collections of poetry.
For a number of years, she has been traveling to Brazil and incorporating her experiences into her fiction and poetry. Four of her novels (The Widow’s War, The Year The Horses Came, The Horses At The Gate, and The Fires of Spring) incorporate some of the rituals of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomble. In 2005 she took a boat up a tributary of the Amazon, traveling over two thousand miles through flooded jungle. In June 2009, she made another trip to one of the headwaters of the Amazon on the Rio Tocantins
Her works have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List and been translated into twelve foreign languages including Japanese, Hebrew, Greek, Russian, and Finnish. A screenwriter as well as a novelist and poet, she has sold feature-length screenplays to Warner Brothers as well as to independent film companies. John Korty directed the filming of her original award-winning screenplay Silence. The film rights to her comic novel The Stand-In were recently optioned by director Renee De Palma of OneMotion Pictures. Three times, Garrison Keillor has read her poetry on The Writer’s Almanac.
At present, she lives in northern California with her husband Angus Wright, and is Professor Emeritus of English at California State University. To learn more about her you are invited to visit her webpage at: http://www.marymackey.com You can also find her on Facebook at
For more biographical information about Mary Mackey, also see: