Plastic: An Autobiography

By Allison Cobb. Nightboat Books, 2021. 

In Plastic: An Autobiography, Cobb’s obsession with a large plastic car part leads her to explore the violence of our consume-and-dispose culture, including her own life as a child of Los Alamos, where the first atomic bombs were made. The journey exposes the interconnections among plastic waste, climate change, nuclear technologies, and racism. Using a series of interwoven narratives―from ancient Phoenicia to Alabama―the book bears witness to our deepest entanglements and asks how humans continue on this planet.


Plastic is powerful and moving, a deep, personal exploration of the modern world.”

– Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize recipient for The Making of the Atomic Bomb

“Allison Cobb is not only a dedicated environmentalist, but she is also one of America’s most original environmental writers. The form of this book embodies narrative plasticity as each chapter is molded by history, science, memory, experience, and personal travels through the plasticsphere. After reading the final page, you will never see plastic the same way again, and you will see it everywhere.”

– Craig Santos Perez