In the Company of Light

In the Company of Light

by John Hay
     
 

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"One of the most daring of contemporary writers in the genre."
-Norton Anthology of Nature Writing

"[Hay's] books about Cape Cod belong in the company of Thoreau, Donald Culross Peattie, Henry Beston, and Rachel Carson."
-Robert Taylor, The Boston Globe

"Hay's new book, published in his 83rd year, is autumnal in spirit and in substance. . . . The essence of

Overview

"One of the most daring of contemporary writers in the genre."
-Norton Anthology of Nature Writing

"[Hay's] books about Cape Cod belong in the company of Thoreau, Donald Culross Peattie, Henry Beston, and Rachel Carson."
-Robert Taylor, The Boston Globe

"Hay's new book, published in his 83rd year, is autumnal in spirit and in substance. . . . The essence of this enterprise is a kind of prayer, eloquent and deeply felt."
-Richard Todd, Civilization

"[Hay] is, to my mind, without question this country's greatest living nature writer. . . . He writes out of such a profoundly poetic impulse that he cannot help but produce prose of a high literary order."
-Robert Finch, The Cape Codder

"Hay loses himself in details, describing the minute play of light through grasses, the reflection of a water bug on the rocks of a stream bottom, the fungi on fallen trees that begin to glow with an eerie luminescence. . . . [He] is not only the observer of what most of us don't see, but of what we may never get a chance to see."
-David Cline, Hartford Advocate

"In the Company of Light shares with considerable humility the well-honed insights of a man rich in the wisdom of age and observation of nature."
-Nancy Grape, Maine Sunday Telegram

John Hay is author of The Great Beach (winner of the John Burroughs Prize), The Run, and A Beginner's Faith in Things Unseen, among many other books. He lives in Brewster, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and in Bremen, Maine.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
One of the most daring of contemporary writers in the genre. —Norton Anthology of Nature Writing

"[Hay's] books about Cape Cod belong in the company of Thoreau, Donald Culross Peattie, Henry Beston, and Rachel Carson." —Robert Taylor, The Boston Globe

"Hay's new book, published in his 83rd year, is autumnal in spirit and in substance. . . . The essence of this enterprise is a kind of prayer, eloquent and deeply felt." —Richard Todd, Civilization

"[Hay] is, to my mind, without question this country's greatest living nature writer. . . . He writes out of such a profoundly poetic impulse that he cannot help but produce prose of a high literary order." —Robert Finch, The Cape Codder

"Hay loses himself in details, describing the minute play of light through grasses, the reflection of a water bug on the rocks of a stream bottom, the fungi on fallen trees that begin to glow with an eerie luminescence. . . . [He] is not only the observer of what most of us don't see, but of what we may never get a chance to see." —David Cline, Hartford Advocate

"In the Company of Light shares with considerable humility the well-honed insights of a man rich in the wisdom of age and observation of nature."—Nancy Grape, Maine Sunday Telegram

Library Journal
Hay, seasoned author of both nonfiction and poetry and 1964 winner of the prestigious John Burroughs Medal for nature writing, offers another work of insight and sensitivity characteristic of earlier books such as The Run (1959). In a series of musings on observations of nature, from his boyhood home in New Hampshire to the shore of Cape Cod, Hay reflects on a theme common in his writingspeople's loss of connection to the natural world. His prose is filled with poetic imagery: "[the swallows] join thousands of others, flitting fast through the fiery lungs of air, at times landing, relocating and feeding, dipping and rising." Those who enjoy Henry Beston's classic, The Outermost House (1928), will appreciate this work. Recommended for all libraries.Maureen Delaney-Lehman, Lake Superior State Univ. Lib., Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
Booknews
Taking various natural and artificial sources of light as a central theme, Hay shares his insights from late-summer Maine with its swallows, harbor seals, and shore birds; and later from his Cape Cod home and its foxfire bugs in the woodpile, salamanders, toadstools, and other phenomena. No index or bibliography. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
An extravagantly lyrical indictment of our desecration of nature from the widely respected elder statesman of nature writers—aggrieved, contrarian, but ultimately self-absorbed. Readers of Hay's recent work (A Beginner's Faith in Things Unseen, 1995; The Bird of Light, 1991; etc.) will recognize familiar themes: humanity's shortcomings contrasted with nature's superior design; the foolishness of subduing and distancing the natural world. Summers in Maine and winters on Cape Cod provide the backdrop for appreciative observations of birds, butterflies, fish and the forests, fields, and marshes they inhabit. Hay has mastered the ecolyricist's requisite reverence for nature and facility for poetic description; his reveries on the sea's liberating effect or the spiritual inspiration gained from the company of barn swallows or the unexpected appearance of a kingfisher reverberate with a Whitmanesque celebration of self: "The sea calls me out. . . . I would be carried on a wind which is free of possession. . . . I am interested in moving with the mind of birds." But combined with his obvious misanthropy in the face of mankind's disconnection from (or worse, hostility toward) nature, Hay's song of himself sounds an off-note between despair and self-involvement. He offers little in the way of actionable advice, opting instead for declarations that are portentous or self-evident. Much of what he says is sound (for example, he notes the absurdity of a planet that values the economic health of "a bloated industrial society" above clean air and water), but passion rather than fact propels his argument. The resulting sermon will undoubtedly draw plenty of amens from the choir, but itoffers little saving grace for sinners. Moments of transcendent beauty, pretty writing, and a heart that's in the right place aren't enough to transcend Hay's self-conscious straining for a miracle around every corner.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807085394
Publisher:
Beacon Press
Publication date:
04/28/1999
Series:
Concord Library Series
Edition description:
None
Pages:
182
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.35(d)

Meet the Author

John Hay is author of The Great Beach (winner of the John Burroughs Prize), The Run, and A Beginner's Faith in Things Unseen, among many other books. He lives in Brewster, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and in Bremen, Maine.

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