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My Reach: A Hudson River Memoir

Overview

In this memoir of the Hudson River and of her family, Susan Fox Rogers writes from a fresh perspective: the seat of her kayak. Low in the water, she explores the bays and the larger estuary, riding the tides, marveling over sturgeons and eels, eagles and herons, and spotting the remains of the ice and cement industries. After years of dipping her paddle into the waters off the village of Tivoli, she came to know the rocks and tree limbs, currents and eddies, mansions and islands so well that she claimed that ...

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Overview

In this memoir of the Hudson River and of her family, Susan Fox Rogers writes from a fresh perspective: the seat of her kayak. Low in the water, she explores the bays and the larger estuary, riding the tides, marveling over sturgeons and eels, eagles and herons, and spotting the remains of the ice and cement industries. After years of dipping her paddle into the waters off the village of Tivoli, she came to know the rocks and tree limbs, currents and eddies, mansions and islands so well that she claimed that section of the river as her own: her reach. Woven into Rogers's intimate exploration of the river is the story of her life as a woman in the outdoors—rock climbing and hiking as well as kayaking.

Rogers writes of the Hudson River with skill and vivacity. Her strong sense of place informs her engagement with a waterway that lured the early Dutch settlers, entranced nineteenth-century painters, and has been marked by decades of pollution. The river and the communities along its banks become partners in Rogers's life and vivid characters in her memoir. Her travels on the river range from short excursions to the Saugerties Lighthouse to a days-long journey from Tivoli to Tarrytown and a circumnavigation of Manhattan Island, while in memory she ventures as far as the Indiana Dunes and the French Pyrenees.

In a fluid, engaging voice, My Reach mixes the genres of memoir, outdoor adventure, natural and unnatural history. Rogers's interest in the flora and fauna of the river is as keen as her insight into the people who live and travel along the waterway. She integrates moments of description and environmental context with her own process of grieving the recent deaths of both parents. The result is a book that not only moves the reader but also informs and entertains.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"By intensively exploring the Hudson River by kayak, Susan Fox Rogers found a powerful means to connect with her community, the natural world, and her own emotions. This pensive memoir examines the role of her close connection with the river in helping her deal with the deaths of both her parents. . . . Her graceful prose and meditative tone offer a personal view into the age-old pull of a great American river as a source of refuge and revival in difficult times. . . . A quiet power builds from her eloquent observations and raw depiction of facing grief's ravages with the aid of the Hudson's solitude and space."—Library Journal (1 December 2011)

"Susan Fox Rogers captures many fascinating aspects of the Hudson River Valley, including its natural and environmental history, industry, famous individuals, early explorers, and native tribes. With Rogers as a guide, the reader follows her gaze, adopting her unique perspective as she ruminates about the local histories of towns along whose shores she paddles. . . . This is a rewarding and highly engaging memoir that Hudson Valley readers will no doubt want to share with their loved ones. Rogers' main message remains relevant: she reminds us of the therapeutic value of near-at-hand nature, the importance of companionship, and that we must all continue forth courageously."—Hudson River Valley Review

"Rogers overcomes these challenges in such a capable manner that, after finishing My Reach, I wanted to run around the block yelling for joy and telling people, 'Read this book!' It is clearly written, with a sense of wonder and self-deprecating wit. Her organizational style is clever; it seems like the book is moseying along but there is a reason and rightness to the order in which she relates experiences, or to the amount of time she devotes to each subject. . . . Regardless of whether you are interested in the Hudson, you will appreciate Rogers’ sense of adventure."—John Rowen, Kaatskill Life

"This is an elegantly written and beautiful book, dominated by powerful, antithetical emotions: grief over the loss of elderly parents and exhilaration with exploring a great American river. There is Huck Finn and his raft and the Mississippi—now there is Susan Fox Rogers and her kayak and the Hudson River to add to the American canon of glorious nature writing."—Philip Roth

"In prose that evokes the great naturalists Edwin Way Teale and Joseph Wood Krutch, Susan Fox Rogers presents an intimate history of the life and death that the Hudson embodies, and the ways a river can sustain the spirit and keep one 'alert to the richness of the world.' This is a wonderful book."—Tom Lewis, Skidmore College, author of The Hudson: A History

"Susan Fox Rogers's lovely and intimate My Reach is a map of the Hudson River that extends in at least three dimensions: time, space, and emotion. As specific as it is, it will resonate with anyone who has experienced a landscape as the setting of both their inner and their outer lives."—Luc Sante, author of Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York

"Susan Fox Rogers has delivered a unique love story about the Hudson River. Like all good love stories it is poetic, sometimes sad, full of discovery and history, and ultimately life- affirming. My Reach is a special memoir about intimacy with a river, and self—and the truth that paddling is about living right."—Holly Morris, author of Adventure Divas

"In passages clear and active as our imagined dream of the Hudson, Susan Fox Rogers acts as avid guide, giving an intimate ride down a river of personal and historic memory. Her Hudson becomes our Hudson."—Edie Meidav, author of The Far Field: A Novel of Ceylon and Crawl Space

"In a fresh and unassuming voice, Susan Fox Rogers sets out to tell the reader what she learns as she comes to know the Hudson River through kayaking near her home in Tivoli, New York, and beyond. What she hadn't anticipated, however, and what she shared, ultimately, is the heartbreaking and profoundly moving manner in which the river teaches her, as she faces a series of sudden and devastating personal losses, the nature of her very self."—Boyer Rickel, author of Taboo

"In My Reach, Susan Fox Rogers shares her deep affection for the complex beauty of the Hudson, respecting both the natural and mechanical worlds that form the life of the river. Within the first two pages she sets the stage, appreciating the metallic song of the katydids even as she enjoys the ripeness of two-stroke engine exhaust. This is a lovely and honest portrait of a river whose natural resources have shaped the course of the nation, and buoyed so many lives through loves and losses just like those Rogers confronts in this moving memoir."—Jessica DuLong, author of My River Chronicles

Library Journal
By intensively exploring the Hudson River by kayak, Fox (writing, Bard Coll.; editor, Antarctica: Life on the Ice) found a powerful means to connect with her community, the natural world, and her own emotions. This pensive memoir examines the role of her close connection with the river in helping her deal with the deaths of both her parents. Whether describing a kayak trip around Manhattan, an encounter with a dead body along the river's edge, or the impact of pollution on the river's fauna, Fox's graceful prose and meditative tone offer a personal view into the age-old pull of a great American river as a source of refuge and revival in difficult times. In the opening section, Fox's memoir seems slight and unfocused, but as the pages pass, a quiet power builds from her eloquent observations and raw depiction of facing grief's ravages with the aid of the Hudson's solitude and space. VERDICT Best-suited to readers interested in memoirs of grief, nature writing, or Hudson River kayaking. Those interested in the river in its historical context may prefer Douglas Hunter's Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage That Redrew the Map of the New World.—Ingrid Levin, Salve Regina Univ. Lib., Newport, RI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801450075
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 8/18/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,386,872
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Fox Rogers is Visiting Associate Professor of Writing at Bard College. She is the editor of twelve books, including most recently Antarctica: Life on the Ice and Going Alone: Women's Adventures in the Wild.

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Table of Contents

1. What Lingers
2. My Reach
3. Swimming the Hudson
4. Courage
5. Home
6. A Life in a Boat
7. The Lost Dunes of Childhood
8. The Speed of Wind and Water
9. I'm Glad You Are Here
10. The Long Loneliness
11. Solace
12. Learning the River
13. If You Are Lucky
14. Fishing
15. Circling the City
16. Nubian Goats
17. Sturgeon Moon
18. Sitting by the River
19. Golden Club
20. Grave Sites
21. Summer Solstice
22. Love for a River

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