Magazine article American Libraries

To Nature!

Magazine article American Libraries

To Nature!

Article excerpt

Earth Day has gone in and out of fashion over the last two decades, but nature writing has flourished for centuries, shaped from the start by a protective love for its subject. Aficionados can rattle off a quick list of favorites such as Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Annie Dillard, Wendell Berry, and Barry Lopez, but many other writers are carrying on the tradition.

In each of these fresh tributes to the earth's myriad beauties and mysteries, a sense of history and change for the worse tempers each meditation. But this perception of vulnerability doesn't interfere with the writers' experiences of joy and adventure, nor prevent them from ushering us into scenes of delight and amazement.

Ackerman, Diane. The Moon By Whale Light. Random

House, 1991, $20 (0-394-58574-7).

Diane Ackerman, poet, pilot, and nature writer, immerses herself fully in the worlds she writes about, be they bat caves, alligator swamps, a penguin nursery, or the oceany haunts of whales--the settings for this group of eloquent and scintillating tales of adventure. Choosing to celebrate nature rather than preach about environmental issues, Ackerman harnesses her gifts for exquisite observation and jubilant imagination to make us fall in love with our fellow species in the hope that this will prevent their extinction.

Adams, Douglas, and Carwardine, Mark. Last

Chance to See. Harmony; dist. by Crown,

1991, $19.95 (0-517-57195-1).

Adams, of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame, brings his stellar wit and keen sense of irony to another entertaining yet provocative report from the endangered species front. He and zoologist Carwardine embark on a quest to see nearly extinct creatures such as the Komodo dragon, the aye-aye in Madagascar, New Zealand kakapos, and Chinese river dolphins. Adams brings all the whimsy of his novels to this chronicle with vigorous descriptions, hilarious characterizations (especially of himself), thoughtful observations, and a fresh, critical perspective.

Berger, Bruce. The Telling Distance: Conversations

with the American Desert. Breitenbush

Books (POB 82157, Portland, OR 97282),

1990, $19.95 (0-932576-74-5).

When one thinks about nature writing and the American desert, Edward Abbey comes to mind but Bruce Berger's brilliant and passionate book should also be readily at hand. Berger's "conversations" meander through stunning terrains, both exterior and interior, as he muses on our need for wilderness and its primal link to our dreams and our arts, especially music and literature. …

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