Not Just Any Land

Article excerpt

Not Just Any Land, by John Price. Nebraska, May 2004. $20

This book reads like an environmentalist version of The Pilgrim's Progress. As a graduate student focusing on nature writing, John Price traveled into the grasslands of the Great Plains of America "to better understand [his] relationship to home." Price's home was then in the much-altered ecosystems of farmland Iowa. He found little undisturbed nature in the landscapes he visited during a personal and literary quest spanning several years. But he did conduct some intimate and rewarding interviews with four major contemporary nature writers. Price's reporting and personal reflections on those interviews with Dan O'Brien, Linda Hasselstrom, William Least Heat-Moon, and Mary Swander constitute the real worth of this book. He asked: What does it mean for writers to attach themselves to specific landscapes and communities? The general answer that Price derived is that each expresses in his or her words a unique sense of environment and communal responsibility "in becoming native to a place. …