cover image Now Comes Good Sailing: Writers Reflect on Henry David Thoreau

Now Comes Good Sailing: Writers Reflect on Henry David Thoreau

Edited by Andrew Blauner. Princeton Univ, $24.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-691-21522-8

Literary agent Blauner (In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs) brings together in this dynamic collection 27 essays on the life of Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) and his most famous work, Walden; or, Life in the Woods. The contributors address what about Thoreau’s life and writing inspired them, and what he has to say to readers today. In “My Guidebook to Japan,” Pico Iyer writes that Thoreau’s essays taught him how to appreciate Kyoto, Japan, “by learning to look at everything around me.” Alan Lightman suggests in “To a Slower Life” that the naturalist’s work is a reminder to get back to the beauty of wasting time, while Sherry Turkle writes in “The Year of Not Living Thickly” that technology has made people fearful of the solitude that was so important to Thoreau. In “ ‘The Record of My Love’: Thoreau and the Art of Science,” Michelle Nijhuis honors the author’s close-observation skills. Taken together, the pieces make a convincing case that Thoreau’s work is ever-relevant and deserving of continued wide readership: “Even you, paltry worried creature of the twenty-first century—reach through the general then into particular and then into the stuff of self,” urges Lauren Groff. Thoreau fans will be delighted. (Oct.)