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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
"Relational correspondence" is how a map translates to the real world, and environmental scientist and lifelong outdoorsman Norment (Return to Warden's Grove) has built a warm, sentimental memoir around the role maps have played in his own life-from being "seduced" by them as a young child in Saratoga, CA, to his last-ditch experiment to backpack Washington's vast Pasayten Wilderness for two weeks without them. What started out as an escape from sexual abuse and family tension turned into an obsession with cartography and nature; Norment has driven across country 33 times, taught navigation for Outward Bound, spent multiple summers in a lookout tower in Wyoming, and "traveled deep into the Sierra, Utah, and Himalaya." As the narrative ranges across the contour lines of his past, he draws from poets, philosophers, fiction writers, and postmodernists, often meandering into detailed explanations about such disparate trivia as the decibels produced by a steam engine and the number of acres in a "pedestrian shed." While some tangents-like the full chapter about tracking feral burros in Death Valley-stray too far from maps themselves, Norment never fails to be an authoritative storyteller, a nature writer who can wax about grace, "love and longing," and the world's "multi-dimensional dovetail of sense and emotion" with sincerity and charming self-deprecation. Maps.
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