Magdalena Mountain

Robert Michael Pyle. Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-64009-077-4
The first novel from prolific nature writer Pyle (Wintergreen) is bathed in exquisite and venerating descriptions of nature, wildlife, and pristine environments. The bountiful tundra of Magdalena Mountain in the Colorado Rockies hosts a group of people and creatures who achieve purpose and belonging amid the beauty. In the early 1970s, eager Yale graduate student James Mead conducts research on the mountain, tracking the elusive “stunning black velvet” Erebia magdalena butterfly and the equally ethereal October Carson, a lepidopterist whose field journals Mead devours. Also drawn to the mountain are pantheistic naturalist monks led by the astute Oberon, and scrupulous Yale Divinity School grad Mary Glanville, who, after a head injury, believes herself to be the reincarnation of Mary Magdalene. As these characters converge, the Erebia magdalena lives out its brief and precarious life cycle in crystalline detail: “Erebia looks much as he did upon eclosure: dark chocolate, velvet, and whole, though the sparse overscaling of prismatic rainbow scales that made him iridesce at first have fallen away.” Pyle eschews a traditional plot for philosophical discussion of the Earth as Mother, the death of ecosystems, overpopulation, and nuclear threat. His contemplative novel will be a treat for readers who delight in the tranquility of nature. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/25/2018
Release date: 08/01/2018
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