The title cloud of Matt Donovan’s A Cloud of Unusual Size and Shape refers to the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius that in 79 AD buried the city of Pompeii under twenty feet of ash. It’s no surprise, then, that Donovan found the sacred ruins a site of inspiration and power, using their legacy to form the beginning of this extraordinary nonfiction debut. Donovan pursues the image of the cloud throughout these 15 spell-binding essays on ruin and redemption.
A Cloud of Unusual Size and Shape is about the flawless connections between antiquity and the present, personal experience to historical events, architecture to art installation to literature. The redemptive power of beauty hovers over this spectacular work, reminding us that darkness and light make an inextricable pattern over our lives and form the delicate balance of what ultimately makes life worthwhile, what gives meaning to the sorrow and joy of being human.