“. . . the world itself is a myth. So no matter what we are doing, we are in the midst of a fable. And fables are by definition what enchant us. The only question is whether we perceive it or not.” –Roberto Calasso
The Lost Salt Atlas is a daily compendium of observations on books, art, cartography, history, and contemporary culture by Andrew Engelson. It finds inspiration in the cabinets of curiosity that once graced the salons of polymaths and experienced travelers. What I hope you will find here is wonder and astonishment at the world, be it fact or fiction. My inspirations include the work of W.G. Sebald, Jorge Louis Borges, Italo Calvino, Annie Dillard, Robert Walser, Joseph Cornell, and Vladimir Nabokov.
The title of this site comes from Marinus de Groet’s 1673 master work Atlas Salis in Orbis Terras, (Atlas of Salt in the Known World), a magnificent compendium of travelogues, philosophical meanderings, and maps of the world’s salt trade routes. All copies of the book have vanished from existence.
Plus, Salt Atlas is a palindrome. I like palindromes.
Please note that everything you read–in books or on the Internet–should be taken with a grain of salt. This blog is a mix of fact and fiction. If you suspect something you read here isn’t true, it’s most likely the work of Christopher J. Liszt, a strange fellow I studied with in college many years ago. Nothing that guy says is to be trusted.
I’m a writer who lives in Seattle, Washington, USA. For three years I lived in Geneva, Switzerland, and before that I lived in Hanoi, Vietnam for four years, where I helped start the Noi Hanoi spoken word series and served as an organizer for the Hanoi Writers Collective, which published an anthology of fiction, essays, and poetry entitled Strange Roots.
Prior to that, I worked for six years as editor of Washington Trails magazine. I’ve written hundreds of freelance book reviews, interviews, and feature articles for publications including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Seattle Times, Publishers Weekly, American Bookseller, Backpacker, Washington Law & Politics, and Metropolitan Living.
I’m currently seeking a publisher for my first novel, Peninsula, which tells the story of three friends who come of age in the Pacific Northwest at the dawn of the Second World War. Set amid the lush rain forests and glaciated peaks of the Pacific Northwest, the novel unfolds an epic story of friendship forged in the mountains and tested by war. Interspersed throughout are snippets of myths, legends, and odd tales that infuse the book with a pervasive sense of place, a map of the twisting roots of human presence in this landscape. Peninsula is a book that blurs the line between history and fiction explores our compulsive need to tell stories.