cover image The River You Touch: Making a Life on Moving Water

The River You Touch: Making a Life on Moving Water

Chris Dombrowski. Milkweed, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-1-63955-063-0

Nature writer Dombrowski (Body of Water) evokes both wilderness splendor and the hardscrabble effort of living paycheck to paycheck in this exquisite work. In lyrical language replete with vivid imagery, Dombrowski reflects on his 25 years as a fly-fishing guide, his uncertainty over writing and poetry, his impending fatherhood and “fear of ushering children into a periled world,” and his precarious role as the breadwinner of his family. Dombrowski’s narrative is enlivened by a cast of friends who offer him and his wife, Mary, a sense of community in Missoula: there’s Phil, a physician who trades doctoring for fishing trips; neighbors such as conservationist Laurie, a wild-game advocate; and Laurie’s partner, Spurgeon, an elite mountain athlete. When their family grows to three children, Dombrowski and Mary’s financial woes increase, prompting a move to Dombrowski’s native Michigan for a job teaching poetry at a prestigious boarding school. Pulled between his occupational responsibilities and devotion to Big Sky country, he renders his love of the natural world in incandescent prose: “the land itself... a blessing, yes, but also [a] kind of passage, a shaft of fall light shone down on a trace path that leads out of a previously impenetrable wood.” Punctuated by the frank candor of a writer weighing sacrifice and art, this introspective memoir will hook fans of A River Runs Through It. (Oct.)