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About This Life


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About the Author

Barry Lopez is the author of three collections of essays, including Horizon; several story collections; Arctic Dreams, for which he received the National Book Award; Of Wolves and Men, a National Book Award finalist; and Crow and Weasel, a novella-length fable. He contributed regularly to both American and foreign journals and traveled to more than seventy countries to conduct research. He was the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim, Lannan, and National Science Foundations and was honored by a number of institutions for his literary, humanitarian, and environmental work. He died in 2020.



Contemplating forces physical and metaphysical within the natural landscape, veteran author and National Book Award-winner Lopez (Arctic Dreams, etc.) here taps personal and collective memory to create an intimate history of man and place. In these 13 essays, most of which have appeared in periodicals like Harper's (where Lopez is a contributing editor) and the Geogia Review, he reveals a mind that is energetically curious, repeatedly making a 10-hour round-trip to kiln-fire pottery in a tradition that catches his interest, or taking a marathon trip involving 40 consecutive air-freight flights in order to explore worldwide exporting and importing. But, on the latter trip, he stops for a sunrise walk in Seoul to see "things that could not be purchased," and, in another essay, quietly meditates on the power of hands. This dichotomy reflects the world traveler who is nevertheless rooted to a particular piece of land in western Oregon, someone whose mind encompasses the grand and the truly particular. To really understand a specific geography, he notes, takes time. Lopez has the kind of intimacy, of immersion, that makes the most ordinary encounter extraordinary. He deciphers nature's enigmatic intimations, as when he compares two proximate but distinct environments, saying: "The shock to the senses comes from a different shape to the silence, a difference in the very quality of light, in the weight of the air." For Lopez, the world's topography is memory made manifest; it stimulates Lopez's own recall and that, in turn, forces us to really think. (June)

"The narrative sings with conviction .... I enjoyed this rich book hugely." - The New York Times Book Review

"Lopez crosses disciplines the way he conquers continents." - The Wall Street Journal "Contemplative and poetic, sometimes even mystical.-- Lopez feels a deep spiritual connection to the natural world." - San Francisco Chronicle

Lopez (The Grace Note of the Canyon Wren, LJ 9/1/94) has won numerous honors and awards for his nonfiction and fiction writing, primarily on natural history and the environment. Four of the 17 essays in this new anthology are newly written for this collection. The others have appeared previously, in slightly different forms and sometimes under different titles, in such publications as Harpers, North American Review, and Rocky Mountain magazine, spanning the period 1981-98. The introduction, called "The Voice," is autobiographical. The essays were chosen, the author says, "to give a sense of how one writer proceeds, and they are reflective of my notion of what it means to travel." Although they are not arranged chronologically, the reader does see the young Notre Dame student who speeds across Indiana in his brother's powerful Corvette develop into the observant writer who visits Japan, the Galapagos, and the Arctic. Of interest to public or academic libraries.ÄNancy Patterson Shires, East Carolina Univ., Greenville, NC

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