Postscripts: Retrospections on Time and Place

Overview

Walt Whitman’s meditation on time is the undercurrent running through Postscripts, a series of reflections on finding one’s place in the endless chain of time. In linked essays, Robert Root ranges across American terrains and landscapes including locales as varied as Walden Pond and Mesa Verde, the mountains of Montana and the coastline of Maine, Great Lakes shorelines and Manhattan on the first day of the war with Iraq.

Rich in “all that retrospection,” Postscripts chronicles ...

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Postscripts: Retrospections on Time and Place

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Overview

Walt Whitman’s meditation on time is the undercurrent running through Postscripts, a series of reflections on finding one’s place in the endless chain of time. In linked essays, Robert Root ranges across American terrains and landscapes including locales as varied as Walden Pond and Mesa Verde, the mountains of Montana and the coastline of Maine, Great Lakes shorelines and Manhattan on the first day of the war with Iraq.

Rich in “all that retrospection,” Postscripts chronicles moments of intimacy and arrival in the natural world while also charting intersections of natural, cultural, and personal history. Whether revisiting the first European settlement in Nova Scotia or seeking out the sites of E. B. White’s life and literature, exploring the only old-growth forest in lower Michigan or shifting perceptions at the birth of a granddaughter, Root offers readers a new perspective on the relationship between time and place, time and timelessness, history and personal history. If the past is prologue, his book suggests, the present is postscript.
 

 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Root (Landscapes with Figures: The Nonfiction of Place), Central Michigan University emeritus English professor and creative writing teacher, offers up a baker’s dozen of his own creative nonfiction essays, each focusing on a particular place, and the author’s personal experiences and associations. Some, like his description of an afternoon’s sylvan escape from the grounds of the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference in the mountains of Vermont, are purely personal. Others are connected to Root’s literary interests. A visit to Belgrade Lakes in Maine prompts recollections of E.B. White’s essay describing his summer holidays there, and his reflections on time and mortality. Walden Pond, in its modern state as environmentalist icon, literary shrine, and vacationer’s playground, offers an ironic contrast to the rather unremarkable, rural body of water it was when Henry David Thoreau settled near its banks to “live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.” Malabar Farm, now an Ohio state park, epitomizes the idealized agrarianism of owner/author Louis Bromfield, and brings to mind White’s witty review-in-verse of the 1948 book that bore its name. Root’s thoughtful, leisurely essays provide an intriguing glimpse into the interior life of a scholar and writer deeply engaged not only with the physical world, but with the historical, literary, and emotional worlds that lie alongside it like ghostly photographic double exposures. (Sept.)
Foreword Reviews - Karunesh Tuli

"Through his essays in Postscripts, Root compels the reader to share his sense of humility in the face of an "enduring and unchangeable natural order.""—Karunesh Tuli, Foreword Reviews
Leslie Carol Roberts
“Root illuminates E. B. White’s ‘Once More to the Lake’ in the same way jazz greats find a musical idea in a standard and make it their own; Root offers a rich and generous account of how a writer is transformed by and can transform great literature.”—Leslie Carol Roberts, author of The Entire Earth and Sky
David Gessner

“This quiet, contemplative, and profound book is a celebration of love of places from one of our best thinkers about love of place.”—David Gessner, author of Return of the Osprey

 

William deBuys

“In Postscripts Robert Root takes you on a tour of iconic American places; the touch is deft, the conversation deep, and Henry Thoreau and E. B. White, like old friends, seem always in the next room.”—William deBuys, author of A Great Aridness

 

Foreword Reviews

"Through his essays in Postscripts, Root compels the reader to share his sense of humility in the face of an "enduring and unchangeable natural order.""—Karunesh Tuli, Foreword Reviews

— Karunesh Tuli

Kirkus Reviews
A disparate, often disappointing collection of essays on place and time, enlivened by the inclusion of pertinent excerpts from the writings of E.B. White. Root (English Language and Literature Emeritus/Central Michigan Univ.; Following Isabella: Travels in Colorado Then and Now, 2009, etc.) brings together 13 pieces of nature writing, 11 of which have previously been published in somewhat different form in various literary publications. The author is clearly a great admirer of White, devoting four of his pieces to that author. Unfortunately, his own writing pales in comparison to that of one of the masters of creative nonfiction. Root's focus on the mundane details of his travels around Great Pond in Maine keeps his work from having the emotional impact of White's account of returning as a father to a lake he had first known as a son. A similar problem occurs with an essay in which Root quotes liberally from White's witty rhyming book review of Louis Bromfield's Malabar Farm. Root tells of his tour of Malabar Farm State Park in Ohio and provides some history of the place and of its novelist owner's ideas on farming, but it is White's review in verse that stays in the mind. Root's musings on time and place come into their own in Chaco Canyon and in the tides and heavy fogs of Acadia National Park, where the history of the land is preserved in the names of tribes and colonists. The author is even sharper when he writes about Florida, where the absence of clear seasons can delude one into thinking that time has stood still. An uneven collection in which too many parts read more like a journeyman's records of where he's been and what he's seen than the work of a longtime teacher of the art of literary nonfiction.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803238466
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2012
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.18 (w) x 8.99 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author


Robert Root is a visiting professor in the MFA program in creative writing at Ashland University and professor emeritus in the Department of English Language and Literature at Central Michigan University. Three of the essays in Postscripts have been cited as Notable Essays in the annual Best American Essays collections. Root’s books include Landscapes with Figures: The Nonfiction of Place and Recovering Ruth: A Biographer’s Tale, both available from the University of Nebraska Press.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue: Words in the Wind (The Green Mountains, Vermont) 3

Part 1 To Think of Time (The Habitation, Nova Scotia) 11

Part 2 The Pattern of Life Indelible (Belgrade Lakes, Maine) 27

The Everlastingly Great Look of the Sky (Walden Pond, Massachusetts) 45

Here Is New York (New York, New York) 69

Part 3 Anasazi (The Four Corners) 83

Knowing Where You've Been (The Bitterroot Mountains, Montana) 97

Part 4 Shore Lines (The Great Lakes) 111

Of Trees and Time (Warren Woods, Michigan) 123

Malabar Farm (Malabar Farm State Park, Ohio) 129

Part 5 Terra Cognita (Acadia National Park, Maine) 149

Time and Tide (Acadia National Park, Maine) 165

Epilogue: Postscript to a Postscript to "The Ring of Time" (Sarasota, Florida) 181

Select Bibliography 197

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