Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day

Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day

3.7 9
by Diane Ackerman
     
 

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A celebrated storyteller-poet-naturalist explores a year of dawns in her most personal book to date.

In an eye-opening sequence of personal meditations through the cycle of seasons, Diane Ackerman awakens us to the world at dawn—drawing on sources as diverse as meteorology, world religion, etymology, art history, poetry, organic farming, and beekeeping.

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Overview

A celebrated storyteller-poet-naturalist explores a year of dawns in her most personal book to date.

In an eye-opening sequence of personal meditations through the cycle of seasons, Diane Ackerman awakens us to the world at dawn—drawing on sources as diverse as meteorology, world religion, etymology, art history, poetry, organic farming, and beekeeping. As a patient and learned observer of animal and human physiology and behavior, she introduces us to varieties of bird music and other signs of avian intelligence, while she herself “migrates” from winter in Florida to spring, summer, and fall in upstate New York. Humans might luxuriate in the idea of being “in” nature, Ackerman points out, but we often forget that we are nature—for “no facet of nature is as unlikely as we, the tiny bipeds with the giant dreams.” Joining science’s devotion to detail with religion’s appreciation of the sublime, Dawn Light is an impassioned celebration of the miracles of evolution—especially human consciousness of our numbered days on a turning earth.

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Editorial Reviews

Wendy Smith
Diane Ackerman wants us to slow down and pay attention. Human beings are "creatures stricken by meaning, afflicted with purpose," she laments; that's why it's essential to stop and savor those instants when "time suddenly snags on a simple Wow!" It's easy to live in the moment when you're immersed in Ackerman's glorious prose, studded with arresting phrases and breathtakingly beautiful images…"I love being part of the saga of life on earth," she writes, "and both suffering and change feature large in that adventure." Yet the impressions that linger after closing her book are not of suffering but of joy, not of change, but of the flow of incident halted, over and over, by the masterful hand of an artist who sketches with tender words the small miracles of a vast universe. "Just show up," she urges us. "Presence is always a present, a gift." Her gift to us is the sheer pleasure of seeing the world through her loving eyes.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal
The award-winning author of books on an eclectic range of subjects, Ackerman (The Zookeeper's Wife) now turns her attention to the dawn. This collection of essays is arranged seasonally from spring to winter and ranges geographically between Palm Beach, FL, and Ithaca, NY. Essays cover everything from the behavior of doves in Florida at dawn and Monet's use of light in his art to a discussion of festivals that take place at dawn and teaching young whooping cranes to migrate. Ackerman focuses on the natural world, especially birds, but she also explores mythology, art, and literature. VERDICT These pieces are accessible and lyrically written, and they flow well, one after another, making reading the book a true pleasure. Ackerman's fans and readers who appreciate nature writing at its finest will love this. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/09.]—Sue O'Brien, Downers Grove P.L., IL
Kirkus Reviews
Ackerman (An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain, 2004, etc.) luxuriates in the break of day. The author experiences dawn as a powerful borderland that accommodates both dreaminess and awareness. She celebrates the sighting of a crane flying overhead and meditates on the use of the bird in Oriental art and Greek myth. Moving gracefully between erudition and whimsy, Ackerman demonstrates an intelligent, humble approach to science: "Science is a tribute to our cleverness, but we are fallible and we filter out so much of the world." The book is arranged by season; the chapters are mostly short and rich with imagery and insight. The author is always comfortable following her fancy, whether considering a spider's web illuminated at first light, the mechanics of sunflowers, an astounding daybreak cloud, a lover slipping away at dawn in The Pillow Book, Monet painting "the lavish spell of the senses detained by a pink and blue sunrise" or the "chatterbox chorale" coming through the window from all manner of bird, the best of which has got to be the crow: "I'm up, dammit. I'm up! I survived another night on this godforsaken planet! Beat that!"-an imagined greeting that reminds the author "that a mass of crows is called a murder of crows."A lovely, learned invitation to "the ancient thrill of impending sunlight."Author tour to Miami, Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, Ore., San Francisco, San Diego. Agent: Suzanne Gluck/William Morris Agency
From the Publisher
"It's easy to live in the moment when you're immersed in Ackerman's glorious prose, studded with arresting phrases and breathtakingly beautiful images." —The Washington Post
Washington Post - Wendy Smith
“[Y]ou're immersed in Ackerman's glorious prose, studded with arresting phrases and breathtakingly beautiful images....Her gift to us is the sheer pleasure of seeing the world through her loving eyes.”
Los Angeles Times
“A keenly observed portrait of the world. . . . A general celebration of our continually renewed existence.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Diane Ackerman is one of our great literary voluptuaries. . . . [T]he writing that results is as invigorating as a lungful of cool morning air.”
Wendy Smith - Washington Post
“[Y]ou're immersed in Ackerman's glorious prose, studded with arresting phrases and breathtakingly beautiful images....Her gift to us is the sheer pleasure of seeing the world through her loving eyes.”
Washington Post
[Y]ou're immersed in Ackerman's glorious prose, studded with arresting phrases and breathtakingly beautiful images....Her gift to us is the sheer pleasure of seeing the world through her loving eyes.— Wendy Smith

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393076936
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
09/28/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
808,000
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

Diane Ackerman has been the finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction in addition to many other awards and recognitions for her work, which include the best-selling The Zookeeper’s Wife and A Natural History of the Senses. She lives with her husband Paul West in Ithaca, New York.

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