Begin with Rock, End with Water: Essays

John Lane. Mercer Univ., $25 (192p) ISBN 978-0-88146-384-2
In his new collection of nature and travel essays, writer, poet, and professor Lane (My Paddle to the Sea) sets out on hitches, drifts, and pilgrimages through a rich variety of landscapes and waterways, exploring the constantly evolving relationships between the physical reality of nature and the ideas, imaginations, and uses of nature in history, literature, and modern culture. With patience, curiosity, and a gifted storyteller’s balance of humor and pathos, Lane meditates on such themes as the romantic literary South built by William Faulkner and James Dickey; pollution and the loss of pure wilderness; and the differences between land preservation and the use of nature for recreation. The essays are united by the idea that, in response to notions both romantic and instinctual, there exists a human desire to “merge” with nature in an attempt to uncover some lost origin. Within nature and history, Lane suggests, lies truth and redemption, for both the individual and humankind. Lane travels with friends and colleagues, experts in science or the humanities, who offer insights that enrich the journey. As Lane, a lifelong southeasterner, meditates on treks down eastern rivers, up western mountains, and through Mexican waterfalls, the reader has a dependable home within his lively and lyrical prose. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/30/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
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