WINTER CREEK: One Writer's Natural History

John Daniel, Author . Milkweed Editions $14 (160p) ISBN 978-1-57131-266-2

Daniel grew up in northern Virginia and in 1966 moved west to attend Reed College in Portland, Ore. There, his experiences in nature under the influence of LSD and other hallucinogens led him to drop out of college and become a logger, a rock climber and, finally, a lauded poet. He eventually received a prestigious Wallace Stegner fellowship and wrote two poetry collections and numerous essays. This book explores Daniel's beliefs about nature and the purpose of creative writing. Like Thoreau, he insists, "Nature is the greater and more perfect art, the art of God. My human art is one small way of answering, in gratitude, the incalculable gift of being." As a credo, the book is moving, if not revolutionary. "I am not likely to know what the world is trying to be. It is enough, it is plenty, to be one small parcel of Nature's becoming, to see just that glimpse of the story I am capable of seeing and to write what I am capable of writing." Daniel is never as original, specific or urgent as Joy Williams in her collection of ecology essays, Ill Nature (Forecasts, Jan. 15, 2001), although his prose is vivid and thoughtful. For a memoir, Daniel's book is (perhaps intentionally) scant in detail, and what is included is often prosaic, e.g., "For some reason, fishing for flounder mattered a lot." Daniel's point of view is commendable if unremarkable. (July)

Forecast:This simple book will sell best to libraries and bookstores with dedicated poetry followings. There may also be some regional interest, since Daniel mentions a number of specific locations in Oregon and California.

Reviewed on: 06/03/2002
Release date: 06/01/2002
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!