SC-Amer Nature Wrtg'96

John A. Murray, Editor
John A. Murray, Editor Random House (NY) $15 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87156-389-7
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If Murray's introduction offers the expected Walden allusion as a statement of purpose, it's only because the noble aspirations of the most honest and thus successful ""nature writers"" seldom waver from Thoreau's example. Murray believes ""books can make a difference"": this one is dedicated to Al Gore, ""who is making a difference,"" and begins with a selection by another politician, Jimmy Carter, who recalls just why he signed into law many of the land acts that guarantee the relative safety of our nation's remaining wildlands in Alaska in ""The Forty-Ninth State, but First in Fishing."" But those measures are being threatened, and some of the writers here reflect that threat, for example Rick Bass, who admits in ""Thunder & Lightning"" that the odds against the endangered species and uncut woodlands of his native Yaak Valley in northwestern Montana are greater than at any time in recent history. Of the 29 pieces by writers such as Gary Nabhan, Jennifer Ackerman, Edward O. Wilson, Barry Lopez, Terry Tempest Williams and David Rains Wallace, a full 10 are getting their first publication here. In one of these, ""The Root of the Universe,"" Rosalie Sanara Petrouske reflects the sense of melancholy that penetrates the most hopeful of the essays: ""[M]y grandmother's house has passed the way all such memories pass, into the vortex of the seasons. I do not even remember the directions for the country road that used to take me there. Progress and development have changed her landscape."" (Mar.)
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