A River Runs Through It; Heartland) and nature writer (

IN THIS WE ARE NATIVE: Memoirs and Journeys

Annick Smith, Author . Lyons $24.95 (312p) ISBN 978-1-58574-246-2

In one section of her hybrid collection of essays, film producer (A River Runs Through It; Heartland) and nature writer (Homestead) Smith remarks on the return of the bison to the American heartland and finds primal identity in the prairie's resurgent grasslands, the hunt for huckleberries and the stealthy survival of mountain lions. In another, she recalls with unsentimental honesty the death of her young husband and, decades later, that of her elderly father. Taken as a whole, these snatches of memoir and fragments of travel writing have a tongue-and-groove elegance that is soothing and precise. The scattered chapters together are unified by the compelling combination of Smith's passion for her place in the world (she lives on 163 acres in the renovated log cabin home outside Missoula, Mont., where she settled more than 30 years ago), and of a quiet anger at how her world has been scarred. In a heartrending opening chapter, "Anticipating Loss," she describes how rapacious lumber companies and insatiable developers have razed the forests that once surrounded her home. In an equally moving last chapter, "Thanksgiving," she exults in her first sighting of a wild turkey. Between the loss anticipated and the joy realized, there is a generous, gently opinionated writer whose despair at what's vanished of the wilderness is balanced by the belief that its rebirth is possible. There is also a strong woman who celebrates turning 60 with a whitewater rafting trip, marveling that younger women are leading the adventure, and at peace with growing old. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/25/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
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