In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

258Fourth Genre waiting to have a perfect face and simply Uve her Ufe. This is a remarkable account. Grealy pairs a poet's attention to language with a particularly insightful and mature self-awareness. The emphasis on appearance in our culture gives Grealys insights a significance far beyond her own unique experience. Daniel Minock Ifyou enjoy nonfiction nature writing at its best, I recommend the Credo Series edited by Scott Slovic for Milkweed Editions. Each ofthe seven short books consists of a 40- to 50-thousand-word essay (or series of essays) by an established writer, often with accompanying photos or drawings, foUowed by a 7- to 10-thousand-word "Portrait" of the author by Slovic and a bibUography of the author's work. Included, to date, are Scott RusseU Sanders, Ann Raymond Zwinger, Pattiann Rogers, Rick Bass, Robert Michael PyIe, WiUiam Kittredge, and AUson Hawthorne Deming—and I'm glad to have read each ofthem, but here are two ofmy favorites: Taking Care: Thoughts on Storytelling and Belief, by WiUiam Kittredge. Mflkweed Editions, Credo Series, 1999. 130 pages, paper, $12.00. WiUiam Kittredge was raised on a ranch in southeastern Oregon in a family "deep into"—not the land, but "agribusiness." How he moved past that life into a new life as writer (of western novels, movie scripts, and creative nonfiction), thinker, environmentalist, teacher, and resident of Montana, but owner of no land, is told in detaü in Owning It All (Graywolf, 1987). This abridged version, Taking Care, is equaUy powerful. Kittredge knows weU how not to make too much ofhis story, not to exaggerate the distance he has traveled or the convictions that he feels. There is a quality of understatement in his prose that gives an accurate impression ofthe slow-talking, balanced man working familiar ground. It is clear, though, from what he says and from what Slovic says in his "Portrait" that Kittredge struggled to achieve his calm clarity , and he was at various times neither cahn nor clear. Halfway through his book, Kittredge explains what he taught about essay writing at the University ofMontana: that a work "began with an experience and then attempted to transcend the personal, writing that began with a voice capable of talking and speculating in candid, trustworthy ways. It then moved to defining significant experiences, to finding patterns, and gesturing toward social impUcations." Of course this is exacdy what happens in Taking Book Reviews259 Care. He teUs his story, and then he teUs the story behind his story, and makes us think hard and weU about both. Writing the Sacred into the Real, by Alison Hawthorne Deming. Milkweed Editions, Credo Series, 2001. 140 pages, paper, $12.00. Poet and essayist AUson Hawthorne Deming is a direct descendant ofthe author of The Scarlet Letter, but her spiritual lineage can be traced back to her great great grandfather's feUow townsman, RalphWaldo Emerson. Here is a reteUing of the "transparent eyebaU" passage from "Nature" for the twentyfirst century: "The human eye does more than see; it stitches the seen and unseen together, the temporal and the eternal. ... It is as if the world were a series of questions, and astonishment were the answer." Like Kittredge, she doesn't strain after meaning, but lets it emerge unthreatened and unharnessed from its burrow or cloud. Stfll, the book is as fifll of ideas as it is of places, people, and elements of the natural world. In "Grand Manan" she ponders the meaning of community and notes the changes she has witnessed in the island over nearly fifty years. In"Provincetown," she convincingly characterizes the community ofthat town, and then, in a quiet, deft turn, summarizes the history ofhuman relationships to the natural world. But the grandest moment comes at the end, in her account ofa scary moment on a mountain in Hawaii. I particularly admire Deming's honesty in Writing the Sacred. Like all the writers in this series, she is acutely conscious ofenvironmental crisis. But she does not push neat and simpUstic answers. In the "Portrait," Slovic caUs her a pragmatist, quoting the passage inWaiden in which Thoreau retrieves an axe that sUd into deep water through a hole in the ice: "Deming...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 258-259
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.