MIND THE GAP: The Education of a Nature Writer

John Hay, Author . Univ. of Nevada $21.95 (120p) ISBN 978-0-87417-595-0

Noted conservationist and nature writer Hay's latest book is rather like a lovely walk in the park with a wise, aging relative—a brief, meditative and occasionally rambling trip that delights and heightens the senses. The son of a well-to-do New York family (his grandfather was Abraham Lincoln's personal secretary), Hay attended boarding schools (where daydreaming earned him the nickname Foggy John), summered in New Hampshire with his family and poked around in the American Museum of Natural History, where his father was a curator. His interest in the natural world, as well as his desire to become a writer, developed slowly but surely. He attended Harvard, became a student and friend of Conrad Aiken and served in WWII. In the more focused and moving second half of the book, Hay turns to his relationship with his adopted environment, Cape Cod, where he and his wife moved to a small plot of land after his discharge from the army. Hay muses on the windswept landscape and its solitary inhabitants, and delights in his interaction with the natural world: "When the sun rolls in over the horizon it shines over the universal society of life without discrimination." Lucid, lithe prose conveys that pleasure well and poignantly considers both nature's eternal power and its vulnerability to human intrusion. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/20/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
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