Crossing Wildcat Ridge: A Memoir of Nature and Healing

Philip Lee Williams, Author
Philip Lee Williams, Author University of Georgia Press $26.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8203-2090-8
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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Williams's dread at the slow realization that he inherited the same heart-disease gene that has killed other members of his family is frightening--particularly so because he does indeed need very serious surgery. Anyone who has ever spent time in the hospital will recognize the intricately built scenes of clean surface, routine efficiency and medical mannerism that lead to the loneliness and quiet fear of the hospital bed. The author is more successful at evoking such scenes involving people and civilization than he is in the alternating chapters, in which he tells of tramping about in his beloved Georgia woods lost in introspection. Despite some lovely images (""rain falls as straight as harp strings"" or ""the low thunk of bullfrogs""), the glitter does not mask banal insights, informing readers, for instance, that most spiders are harmless or ""when someone is killed in a wreck or dies of a heart attack--that sudden wrenching event stains us for years, if not forever."" Much of Williams's writing is marked by that strange self-satisfaction of those who think themselves closer to nature than others. ""Writer at Work"" signs appear too often, and there is an over-reliance on long sequences of musing questions to indicate the author's appreciation of the deep mysteries of nature. An accomplished and experienced writer, Williams for an instant seems to catch himself: ""I suspect those of us who flee to nature have more megalomania than humility."" Such moments of honesty redeem the book and make its best parts worthwhile. (Mar.)
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