Thankful for undiscovered nature writers

There are lots of things to be thankful for this year, but the coolest one so far is how many new nature writers I’ve stumbled onto in the past couple weeks. I’m using the term “nature writer” pretty loosely, as someone who tries to write about man’s relationship to the natural world in a narrative fashion. I’m also using “new” or “undiscovered” loosely — meaning new to me.

Today I was reading the current issue of National Geographic, an article about shrinking permafrost — more global warming, gloom and doom, nails on a chalkboard. Or so I expected, but read on to find this:

The world is beautiful, in many unfathomable ways. In our hurrying, though, we frequently miss what is beautiful around us, in the same way that we forget from time to time what we want our lives to mean. Just to stay afloat in the modern world, many of us reluctantly choose detachment from the constant stimulus. We even turn away from beauty, as if it were another thing we had had too much of.

That’s Barry Lopez, National Book Award Winner. Not new. But I’d never heard of him. (Check out Arctic Dreams).

Who else popped up on my radar? Thanks to fellow BHA member Tony Heckard I found David Petersen, and picked up his book on writing at the library and plan to send A Man Made of Elk to my dad for Christmas (my old man is made of elk, Starbucks and oatmeal).

Then there’s Jim Harrison, who I first heard of from a Trouthole blog post. The Beast God Forgot to Invent is one of the best pieces of fiction I’ve ever read.

I’ll leave this with sad chunk of reality from Elizabeth Gilbert:

Clever, ambitious, and always in search of greater efficiency, we Americans have, in two short centuries, created a world of push-button, round-the-clock comfort for ourselves. the basic needs of humanity — food, clothing, shelter, entertainment, transportation and even sexual pleasure — no longer need to be personally labored for or ritualized or even understood. All these things are available to us now for mere cash. Or credit. Which means that nobody needs to know how to do anything anymore, except the one narrow skill that will pay for the conveniences and services of modern living.


About mstansberry

Matt Stansberry currently lives in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and son.
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4 Responses to Thankful for undiscovered nature writers

  1. EXCELLENT quote! Elizabeth Gilbert summed up our society very accurately, how sad.

  2. Bpaul says:

    Barry Lopez is one of my favorite writers of all time. I prefer his short story collections over Arctic dreams, especially Winter Count, Desert Notes, and River Notes. Freaking amazing stuff.

    Have you read Craig Childs? Again, amazing stuff. I suggest The Secret Knowledge of Water first, then once you are warmed up, The Soul of Nowhere. He’s truly a great writer.

  3. JVK says:

    Thanks for posting this a while back. I ended up reading The Last American Man. Great book, really enjoyed it. thanks for opening my reading world.


  4. Add us to your list of “undiscovered nature writers” — visit our website. Over 425 of my essays are on the website. It has been called the best bioregional education website in the nation.

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