Magazine article The New Yorker

Briefly Noted;

Magazine article The New Yorker

Briefly Noted;

Article excerpt

The Great Outdoors

Wolves and Honey, by Susan Brind Morrow (Houghton Mifflin; $18.95). The Finger Lakes region of western New York is remote from much of the state, and, unlike the Hamptons, the Catskills, and the Adirondacks, was never really settled by summer people. It is nevertheless a beautiful and somewhat mysterious part of America--with long, clean lakes, hidden valleys, and towns bearing Greek names like Hector and Ithaca--and was the birthplace of Mormonism, spiritualism, and the American women's-suffrage movement. Morrow grew up in Geneva, at the north end of Seneca Lake (where F. Scott Fitzgerald's doomed Dick Diver ended up). Her short, affecting book is partly a memoir recalling the habits of bees, the return of wolves, and "a life spun together through layers of sense impressions," and also a meditation on the outdoors that evokes "the smell of damp earth, the sweetness of maples and pines . . . as though it were freedom itself."

Stargazing, by Peter Hill (Canongate; $24). In 1973, Hill, a hippie art student from Glasgow, anticipated that his stint as a summer lighthouse-keeper off the west coast of Scotland would be a time for writing haiku and painting seascapes. Real duty, he learned, is more like living inside a working clock--keeping watch by a relentless schedule, with sleep parcelled into shifts of a few hours and conversations carried on in fifteen-second intervals between foghorn blasts. His narrative gives voice to the old-salt Scotsmen who tend the lights, as they recount murderous legends or boil over while watching the Watergate hearings. …

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