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Reviews 185 Rick lists the faunal and floral species of the Yaak Valley, takes the reader on walks in those woods where Pacific Northwest meets Northern Rockies near the Canadian bor­ der, near the Montana-Idaho stateline. He introduces the reader to the rural community that has become his home—though Rick and his family live in the woods at the extreme end of “civilization.” Vicariously I hunted with him, walked in his woods, got muddy, saw my clothes stained by late-summer huckleberries and wet by late spring rains. He takes me along, too, in his thinking by sharing his feelings and his spiritual quest. He tells it as he sees it—the Forest Service lies, the politicians’ indifference to things that matter, the multinational corporations’ continuing rape of the land in the name of jobs with the blessings of our elected officials and natural resource agencies— and since I share his vision and his experience in my own frustrating efforts to save cul­ tural resources, he speaks to me. I think the book speaks to anyone who cares about the natural world. I believe (Rick writes at one point “please keep believing”), as he does, that people should be angry “When a given industry asks to be put above and beyond the law,” as the timber indus­ try has by the Salvage Logging Rider. This rider, written by the timber industry, gave the industry carte blanche to cut “any and every tree in the forest” without environmental appeal. No wonder Rick is angry. I’m angry too. Aren’t you? One chapter, “Metamorphosis,” is a letter to his friend Bill Shearer, in which Rick recounts his experiences on a ritual hike he took for Bill, who is suffering from a lifethreatening disease. Another chapter, “My Congressman,” recognizes the debt Rick, and all of us who love wilderness and honesty, owe to a courageous Montana Congressman, Pat Williams, now retired from Congress, who tried to give the Yaak wilderness protec­ tion. Other chapters record the political battle Rick has led to save the Yaak, an on-going battle that hasn’t yet been lost or won. I’m not sure Rick wants you to come see the place for yourself. To write a book about the Yaak cost Rick some soul-searching, “revealing earned secrets.” To get people to care enough about the Yaak to help save it, he had to lay bare his life, expose the place to his readers, and risk the threat of invasion. Even I felt a little guilty while reading The Book of Yaak, as though I were looking through a window, watching from the outside like a peeping-Tom, as Rick’s life unfolds and his battle continues. I see him with his wife and dogs and daughters, and I wish him well. VERNE HUSER Albuquerque Academy From the Island’s Edge: A Sitka Reader. Edited by Carolyn Servid. (Saint Paul: Greywolf Press, 1995. 281 pages, $15.00.) What—yet another anthology of nature writing? One need only consult the bibli­ ographies published the last few years by ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, edited by Zita Ingham) to confirm the sense of a growing glut of books about literature and the environment. As one who has staked his academic career and vocation on the study of nature writing, I feel terribly ambivalent about this phe­ nomenon. On the one hand I think a compelling argument could be made for a story to be written of every conceivable place on the planet; on the other hand I must admit to feelings of boredom, even annoyance, upon learning of yet one more “story” about “the 186 Western American Literature lastbestplace onearth”“celebrated”by somecontemporary“Thoreauvian”figure. It is nolongerpossible tokeepupwiththeburgeoningliteratureofplace. Nordoes onenec­ essarily want tothese days. SoitwaswithmixedfeelingsthatIagreedtoreviewthiscollection. But,uponread­ ing it, I’m glad I did. The fifty-seven pieces anthologized here—essays, poems, fic­ tion—are the result of an annual symposium held the last ten years in Sitka, Alaska. Many of the works focus on Alaska and Alaskan themes, but some take place in the authors’home territories outside the GreatWhite North. Theusual luminaries ofnature writing and western American...


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pp. 185-186
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