cover image Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living

Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living

Karen Auvinen. Scribner, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5011-5228-3

“In the days after I’d watched my house burn, a great weight lifted,” Auvinen writes in this beautiful, contemplative memoir. After a fire destroyed Auvinen’s Colorado Front Range Rocky Mountain home and belongings when she was nearly 40, she moved to an isolated mountain community in the same state. “I felt strangely euphoric,” she writes, “no longer saddled with counting every penny for rent or bills, unburdened by a house full of goods that required care, cleaning, or mending. Mine was the ecstasy of the unencumbered.” She watched the seasons unfold, with Elvis, her faithful dog, at her side. It is Elvis—and her vital relationship with him—that’s at the core of the book. “Elvis had long been my eyes, my ears, but now I realized he was also my guru, my guide: His presence reminded me to play now, sleep now, explore now, be now.” Her narrative builds slowly but intensely. Auvinen shares rich details of mountain life: “Living wild succinctly arranges priorities: You make food, take shelter, stay warm,” her life lived “like a ritual, equal to meditation or the ritual I had of writing down weather and birds each morning.” This breathtaking memoir honors the wildness of the Rockies and shows readers how they might come to rely on their animal companions.[em] (June) [/em]