returnofgardebutevents copy

Mark Spitzer will be launching his newest book Return of the Gar later this week. Please see the press release and book trailer below.

Contact: (501) 450-3339, toadsuckreview@gmail.com

March 1, 2015


UCA Department of Writing

Conway―Not only did Writing professor Mark Spitzer write the book on the fish species known as gar (Season of the Gar, University of Arkansas Press, 2010), he also wrote the sequel. Return of the Gar, just out from the University of North Texas Press, continues the conservationist crusade Spitzer began thirteen years ago to destigmatize this monstrous-looking prehistoric fish. Alligator gar, the largest member of the gar family, can grow eleven feet long and weigh over three hundred pounds―and they’re right here in Arkansas.

In fact, that’s where the book begins. In 2011, Spitzer made national news when he clashed with Conway Corporation over their building of the city’s new sewage plant, which was constructed in one of the oldest traditional spawning grounds in the state. Through a combination of science, folklore, history, ecology, photographs, and first-hand experience, Return of the Gar documents this conflict, then incorporates research Spitzer has done with US Fish & Wildlife, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and UCA biologists to preserve and propagate alligator gar in the state. Through action-packed narratives, Spitzer also paints a portrait of other gar species and their struggles in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, specifically.

“The book has an international aspect as well,” Spitzer states. “I go to Nicaragua and Costa Rica to fish for tropical gar and assess fisheries in Central America, and then I go to Thailand, where I catch a gator gar and assess their fisheries too. But I also go to the state of Tabasco in Mexico where people are now farming gar for food, and to sustain a culture based on gar, because the petro-chemical industry compromised the environment.”

Spitzer, whose appearance on Animal Planet’s River Monsters made him the virtual rockstar of this fish, has published 21 books. He teaches creative writing at UCA and is the Editor in Chief of the literary journal Toad Suck Review.

Ultimately, the book focuses on the 2012 Mayflower oil spill, which Spitzer uses as a metaphor for challenges that both humans and gar are facing during a time of environmental crisis. Still, the book is optimistic, and it details the work of the international gar community, especially in the United States, where extirpated populations of alligator gar are now making a comeback.

Spitzer debuts Return of the Gar with a reading and book signing at Faulkner County Library in Conway on Thursday, April 2, at 7 p.m. Copies of Return of the Gar will be available for purchase. This event is free and open to the public and suitable for all ages. The Faulkner County Library is located at 1900 W. Tyler St., Conway. For more information, contact Nancy Allen at (501) 327-7482 or nancy@fcl.org.

Spitzer will also be on hand for a book signing at Wordsworth Books in Little Rock from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday April 4, 2015. Copies of Return of the Gar will be available for purchase and the author is happy to talk fishing. This event is free and open to the public and suitable for all ages. Wordsworth Books is located at 5920 R St., Little Rock . For more information, contact Jean Cazort at (501) 663-9198 or wordsworthar@gmail.com.

Return of the Gar trailer on Youtube:

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