Sick of Nature

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David Gessner’s Return of the Osprey is "among the classics of American nature writing," said the Boston Globe. So why does this critically acclaimed nature writer now declare himself to be "sick of nature"?

In diverse, diverting, and frequently hilarious essays, Gessner wrestles with father figures both biological and literary, reflects on the pleasures and absurdities of the writing life, explores the significance of place for both his work and his sense of well-being, and rails at the confines of the nature genre even as he continues to find fresh inspiration for his writing in the natural world. In the end, he learns to embrace—or at least tolerate—the label he once rejected.

Whether kicking at the limits of his category or explaining why he was fired from his job as a bookstore clerk; whether recalling his youthful obsession with Ultimate Frisbee or recounting an adventure in the jungles of Belize; whether lampooning his own writerly envy of Sebastian Junger or raging at the over-development of Cape Cod or searching for solace in nature in the wake of September 11, Gessner ranges from the personal to the natural in lyrical reflections on writing, self, and society.

In a powerful concluding essay, Gessner moves from the arrival of coyotes in the suburbs of Boston to the birth of his first child in an extended meditation on his characteristic themes of wildness, place, and creativity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Comical, energetic, and reverentially irreverent . . . Gessner's literary voice in this book is something new, something different . . . In particular, he argues for - and then gleefully demonstrates—the enlivening contribution of farce and other modes of narrative in the field of nature writing . . . More like a gulp of laughing gas than the standard breath of fresh air."—Orion Magazine

"The book reads like a novel and reaches a satisfying conclusion as Gessner matures from a wild adolescent to a seasoned professor. His humor, irreverence, raw honesty, and passion make him reminiscent of Edward Abbey, and, like that writer, he leaves you with plenty to ponder. Highly recommended"—Library Journal

“Here is an environmental read with irreverent laughter and attentive awe both.”—Virginia Quarterly Review

"Eschewing expectations turns out to be one of Gessner's favorite pastimes, as he exuberantly demonstrates throughout Sick of Nature . . . Anyone who can capture in words the quiet joy of rocking an infant as well as the boldness of an osprey's plunge to the sea is a unique voice, well worth reading even if you're not the least bit sick of birds and trees."—Audubon Naturalist News

Library Journal
This work may be hard to categorize, but that's just fine with Gessner (Return of the Osprey), who, sick of the restrictions placed on nature writing, happily mixes genres. A personal history of his long writing apprenticeship, it includes musings about his businessman father, schizophrenic brother, obsession with ultimate Frisbee, and stoned and drunken days as a student at Harvard. Intermingled throughout are descriptions of his beloved Cape Cod and lessons learned about life and nature from 9/11, his study of the coyote trickster myth, and the birth of his daughter. The book reads like a novel and reaches a satisfying conclusion as Gessner matures from a wild adolescent to a seasoned professor. His humor, irreverence, raw honesty, and passion make him reminiscent of Edward Abbey, and, like that writer, he leaves you with plenty to ponder. Highly recommended.-Maureen J. Delaney-Lehman, Lake Superior State Univ. Lib., Sault Ste. Marie, MI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584654643
  • Publisher: Dartmouth College Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 1,269,908
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

DAVID GESSNER is author of A Wild, Rank Place (UPNE, 1997), Under the Devil’s Thumb (1999) and Return of the Osprey: A Season of Flight and Wonder (2001), which was a selection of the Book of the Month Club and named one of the top ten nonfiction titles of 2001 by the Boston Globe. He has taught environmental writing at Harvard University and is currently an assistant professor in the creative writing program at University of North Carolina Wilmington.

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Table of Contents

Sick of Nature
"Bigger Than Shakespeare," Or How I Weathered the Perfect Storm
Benediction: On Being Boswell's Boswell
A Letter to a Neighbor
Ultimate Glory: A Frisbee Memoir
Marking My Territory
Polygamist of Place
The Apprentice
To the Fatherland
On Creating Nonfiction
Being Theo
Dungo in the Jungle
Soliloquy in Spartina
The Punctured Pastoral
Trickster in the City

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Customer Reviews

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