The Inner Coast: Essays

Donovan Hohn. Norton, $16.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-393-43981-6
In this penetrating collection, Hohn (Moby-Duck), a former editor at GQ and Harper’s, offers keen insight on subjects ranging from ice canoeing in Quebec City to the Flint, Mich., water crisis. Taking a New Journalism approach, Hohn’s essays fuse the personal, historical, and cultural. In “A Romance of Rust,” he accompanies his tool-collecting uncle to a series of auctions across Michigan, while ruminating on the evolution of tools and their symbolic association with manliness. In “Watermarks,” Hohn considers writings about water, including both Genesis and Adrienne Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck,” and incorporates snapshots from his own life—droughts during his 1970s California childhood, a more recent scuba diving expedition in Lake Michigan. The strongest piece is “Falling,” about his mother, who suffered periods of mental instability during his youth. His memories of her vary wildly—at one point she’s rising early to organize a complicated scavenger hunt for his birthday party, at another abandoning her husband and young children to live in a hotel for nine months. This essay is tender and poetic, and a genuine feat of empathy. With his close sense of connection to nature and knack for quietly moving prose, Hohn reveals himself to be a valuable new name in narrative nonfiction. (June)
Reviewed on : 02/20/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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