Paste it in the head!


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Since I'm apparently on an environmental kick--and I am an environmentalist by nature--I'd like to share with my loyal readers my favorite author, David James Duncan. He lived in Oregon for most of his life before moving to Montana; the Pacific Northwest is the setting for most of his writing; his capacity for storytelling is phenomenal: these are not necessarily criteria for being my favorite writer, but they certainly don't hurt. He has the ability to infuse each sentence with beautiful language and each scene with palpable emotion, yet somehow he manages to avoid coming across as saccharine. I read The Brothers K first, and fell completely in love. The Brothers K and The River Why are his novels; River Teeth is a collection of fiction and non-fiction stories and essays about nature, specifically rivers; and My Story as Told by Water is a collection of non-fiction essays chronicling Duncan's experiences with the rivers of Oregon and Montana. I find him to be at his best when writing about nature...My Story contains some of the most eloquent, beautiful, and heartfelt accounts of human interaction with nature that I've ever read, and in The River Why Duncan somehow melds the coastal environment of Oregon with the power of romantic and familial love. He makes no attempt to hide his love for nature, and he makes no excuses for the myopic and greedy destruction of it.

I've read a couple other works of both fiction and non-fiction that could fall under the genre "environmental literature." The Last Child in the Woods comes to mind, as does Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, though I wouldn't normally consider Bryson to be an environmental writer. I think that the interaction between humans and nature is fascinating (Peter Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard and Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild come to mind), particularly in light of global warming.

If anyone has any good environment-themed books that they've read lately, I'd love suggestions!


  • This isn't exactly a nature themed book, but Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado was incredible. It's by one of the guys that the movie Alive was based on and is being compared to Into Thin Air by Jon Krackauer. It's not out yet, but I could send you an advanced copy.

    By Blogger McGeekan, at 10:52 AM  

  • that sounds awesome. i read alive and LOVED it. i would love an advance copy :)

    By Blogger Tasha, at 1:12 PM  

  • things i love about kristen: her thoughtfulness, her kindness, her gentle spirit...

    i love fishing.

    for books.

    (and in my defense, she offered before...i feel a collar tug, geez, coming on)

    By Blogger al, at 7:55 PM  

  • give me your address. i'll oblige. i just finished a really good book that isn't out until may. i'll send you the ARC.

    By Blogger McGeekan, at 11:08 AM  

  • Yes, The Brothers K is wonderful. Duncan has a perceptive understanding of human nature.
    A good environmentally themed book is Curious by Nature: one woman's exploration of the natural world by Candace Savage. It's a series of essays by Savage about nature etc. I actually learned a lot from it! READ IT!
    Also, yet another problem with global warming: elevated CO2 levels are driving high photosynthetic rates. This creates too much carbon for plants to use (because they need other nutrients to use carbon) so to lower photosynthetic rates plants are pulling nitrogen out of their leaves. This creates a problem for animals eating the plants (and each other) because nitrogen in limiting but is essential for life...but if the nitrogen content in leaves is lower, animals are getting less nitrogen per gram of dry mass they consume. DISASTER!!!! So to hell with all those idiots who think that the elevated photosynthetic rates associated with global warming are good. Ignorant people. Apparently I need to start my own blog instead of ranting away in my comments.

    By Anonymous Lorien, at 4:26 PM  

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