American Nature Writing: A Celebration of Women Writers

John A. Murray, Selected by
John A. Murray, Selected by Oregon State University Press $17.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-87071-551-8
Paperback - 978-0-87156-479-5
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With subjects and backgrounds that range from a treacherous hike in the Grand Canyon to a frog chorus in a central Louisiana marshy woodland, this invigorating collection (the seventh from series editor and founder Murray) offers examples of nature writing at its best, drawn from books, periodicals and unpublished work. This time around, all the contributors are women. Lisa Couturier writes about drawing inspiration from observing crows' strong family bonds from her stone house on the Potomac River in Maryland. Trudy Dittmar's beautiful, Hemingway-esque essay on encounters with moose in Wyoming probes that unpredictable, fiercely blustering, idiosyncratic creature. Colorado poet Pattiann Rogers describes having an epiphany after witnessing the death of an injured snake, hit by a car. And, in her delightful ""The Queen and I,"" Seattle environmentalist Adrienne Ross enlists a beekeeper's help to rid her house of a bee invasion without calling in the exterminator. Some of the book's strongest selections voice ecological concerns: Marybeth Holleman reports firsthand on the ongoing damage to communities and to wildlife hurt by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill; Kate Boyes profiles a disillusioned Utah desert town ""saved"" by a Faustian pact (U.S. military provided jobs but used the town's environs as a toxic dump); and Carol Ann Bassett braves the rapids of Chile's wild B o-B o River as she mingles with the ancient Mapuche Indians, whose traditional culture is being threatened by a hydroelectric dam project. There are two grating pieces about hunting--including one by a Buddhist meditator--but, overall, this is a strong and worthy compilation. (Mar.)
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