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An urgent, deeply moving final work of nonfiction from the National Book Award–winning author of Arctic Dreams and Horizon, a literary icon whose writing, fieldwork, and mentorship inspired generations of writers and activists.
This collection represents part of the enduring legacy of Barry Lopez, hailed as "a national treasure" (Outside) and "one of our finest writers" (Los Angeles Times Book Review) when he died in December 2020. An ardent steward of the land, fearless traveler, and unrivaled observer of nature and culture in all its forms, Lopez lost much of the Oregon property where he had lived for over fifty years when it was consumed by wildfire, likely caused by climate change. Fortunately, some of his papers survived, including five never-before published pieces that are gathered here, along with essays written in the final years of his life; these essays appear now for the first time in book form.
Written in his signature observant and vivid prose, these essays offer an autobiography in pieces that a reader can assemble while journeying with Lopez along his many roads. They unspool memories at once personal and political, including tender, sometimes painful stories from Lopez’s childhood in New York City and California; reports from the field as he accompanies scientists on expeditions to study animals; travels to Antarctica and some of the most remote places on earth; and to life in his own backyard, adjacent to a wild, racing river. He reflects on those who taught him: the Indigenous elders and scientific mentors who sharpened his eye for the natural world--an eye that, as the reader comes to see, missed nothing. And with striking poignancy and searing candor, he confronts the challenges of his last years as he contends with the knowledge of his mortality, as well as with the dangers the Earth—and all of its people--are facing.
This deeply moving final work of nonfiction from an icon whose writing, fieldwork and mentorship inspired generations of writers and activists is an urgent cri de coeur about the natural world and a memoir of both immense pain and tremendous wonder--one that opens our minds and souls to the urgency of being wholly present for, and preserving, the beauty of life all around us.
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