PATHS OF DESIRE: The Passions of a Suburban Gardener

Dominique Browning, Author . Scribner $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4665-1

"Desire paths," writes Browning, are defined by how people actually move from place to place, whether in physical space or emotionally and psychically. Browning (Around the House and in the Garden ) recounts the creation of two desire paths: a "long and winding" one through her restored half-acre suburban garden, and an equally meandering one from the desolation of a broken marriage to the joyful rebuilding of both her garden and her life. Browning's century-old home may not be typical of today's suburbs, but what she contends with is. Raccoons, opossums and "neurotically evolved" skunks invade at night, as do beer-drinking teenagers. Dogs yap, horns honk and leaf blowers "grind all day." Warring with neighbors over "trees and walls and fences and garbage bins" is constant. Although "the suburban garden starts its life as a construction site," it is also a place where "nothing is impossible, and the only limitations on what you can do are your own will and imagination." Still, one needs "Helpful Men," a fraternity of roofers, masons, landscapers and tree surgeons who communicate by cell phone—almost exclusively with one another—and do not clean up. As Browning comes to rely more and more on "the Helpful Men" to fix the disorder in her garden, she gradually learns not to depend on "the True Love" to free her from the grasp of a rampant, flowerless wisteria and awaken her with a kiss. Instead, she discovers that her sons are showing "promising signs of usefulness" and sets out on an "endless" path in a "garden that springs from the heart." (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/22/2003
Release date: 02/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 344 pages - 978-0-7862-6809-2
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