LITTLE THINGS IN A BIG COUNTRY: An Artist and Her Dog on the Rocky Mountain Front

Hannah Hinchman, Author . Norton $25.95 (76p) ISBN 978-0-393-02016-8

Visual artist and "aging, single, unrepentant hippie-environmentalist" Hinchman (A Trail Through Leaves ) sets out with her loyal dog, Sisu, to explore, observe and record western Montana's Rocky Mountain Front. While hiking the fields, swamps, rivers, prairies, forests, creeks and game reserves, Hinchman's exacting eye for flora and fauna is always at work chronicling, often in minute detail, all aspects of what surrounds and fascinates her. The result is a love letter to nature: a travel journal/naturalist's notebook replete with hand-written notes; illustrations and diagrams of flowers, birds, deer, animal tracks, "soul-slaying" vistas, cowboys and area maps; and many charming portraits of Sisu. Hinchman paints stones, ice formations, grasses and leaves, tree bark, and animals in motion with a fluent, sensitive hand. Her relationship with other humans on the Front, however, is not as reverent: "I value the Front for its ecological integrity; they value it as a source of livelihood... to them, my values are perverse, elitist, heretical." She exhibits further disdain for hunters: "More often, the morning stillness is violated by volleys of gunshots, as though a gang of idiots were shooting randomly at a running herd... if these aren't the sounds of brutal ineptitude, someone please enlighten me." Although her voice is strong with witty, barbed opinions, Hinchman does show an undercurrent of loneliness and melancholy, which adds deeper complexity to her forays: "Workaday sadness is diluted and absorbed outdoors in the 'more than human world'... I find it soothing to be rendered insignificant." Agent, Elizabeth Kaplan. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/12/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-393-32866-0
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