Temple Stream: A Rural Odyssey

Temple Stream: A Rural Odyssey

by Bill Roorbach
     
 

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Great blue herons, yellow birches, damselflies, and beavers are among the talismans by which Bill Roorbach uncovers a natural universe along the stream that runs by his house in Farmington, Maine. Populated by an oddball cast of characters to whom Roorbach ("The Professor") and his family might always be considered outsiders, this book chronicles one man's

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Overview

Great blue herons, yellow birches, damselflies, and beavers are among the talismans by which Bill Roorbach uncovers a natural universe along the stream that runs by his house in Farmington, Maine. Populated by an oddball cast of characters to whom Roorbach ("The Professor") and his family might always be considered outsiders, this book chronicles one man's determined effort—occasionally with hilarious results—to follow his stream to its elusive source. Acclaimed essayist and award-winning fiction writer Bill Roorbach uses his singular literary gifts to inspire us to laugh, love, and experience the wonder of living side by side with the natural world.

Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times
Roorbach has a knack for tapping into deep undercurrents and bringing them to the surface with the least amount of fanfare or fuss.
Melanie Rae Thon
Here is a narrator who makes you glad to be alive, giddy to be in his presence, grateful to love friends and family and dogs with generosity and abandon, to show tenderness and thus be saved by strangers,
Boston Globe
There is poetry in Bill Roorbach's prose...his lyricism touched lightly with irony.
The Seattle Times
Bill Roorbach is a brilliant guide to the natural world. Gracefully combining deep knowledge, lyrical description and wry humor, his writing draws you out of your chair and into a world of streams and meadows and trees and bugs and beavers. And it makes you want to stay there.
Booklist
With a voice as pure and true as the stream itself, Roorbach limns a lyrical yet precise portrait of the life teeming along one deceptively simple yet richly essential part of the natural world.
Playboy
You'll be homesick for a place you've never visited.
The Believer
While genuine in his appreciation of Nature, Roorbach is the antithesis of the smug and self-absorbed Naturalist...Temple Stream is a moving book: thoughtful, precise, about much more than flora.
From the Publisher
Here is a narrator who makes you glad to be alive, giddy to be in his presence, grateful to love friends and family and dogs with generosity and abandon, to show tenderness and thus be saved by strangers,
—Melanie Rae Thon
Jay Parini
Roorbach falls, for me, into that small category of writers whose every book I must read, then reread.

L A Times
Roorbach has a knack for tapping into deep undercurrents and bringing them to the surface with the least amount of fanfare or fuss.
Publishers Weekly
Roorbach (Big Bend) takes readers on a journey in and around Temple Stream, which flows by his 1874 home near Farmington, Maine, about 40 miles northwest of Augusta. He records a series of forays along his stream, observing subtle environmental clues: the mix of trees, the types of garbage, the attitudes of local beavers, the varieties of birds and wildflowers. Sometimes his wife or their newborn baby accompanies him, sometimes neighbors, but more often just his two dogs. His essays on his perambulations sometimes include a dramatic incident-encounters with mountain man Earl or with the aptly named Ms. Bollocks-but usually there's just a single golden thought: for example, seeing caddis fly nets, he remembers calling them "wind socks" as a boy and then recalls a feeling he had, 40 years back, of being "late for dinner, all alone in his canoe, drifting homeward." Some themes thread through these essays: the progress of home improvements, his wife's pregnancy, his messages-in-a-bottle miraculously returned, his charting of Temple Stream back to its mysterious source. Roorbach's obvious delight in obscure phrasing-"streamside omphaloskepsis," "callipygian cowgirl"-should please literate stream walkers who enjoy a good browse in their dictionaries after a day's wander in the woods. Agent, Betsy Lerner. (Aug. 2) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Since his 2000 debut, Roorbach (Summers with Juliet; The Smallest Color) has been deservedly lauded by the likes of Jay Parini and Richard Russo for his fiction and nonfiction alike. Here Roorbach chronicles a decade in the life of his family, from 1992, when he and his wife bought a house outside of Farmington, ME, to the birth of their daughter. He deftly documents his exploration of the stream itself as well as his neighbors. One of the book's best characters is Earl Pomeroy, a Temple Stream native with a knack for "always [knowing] when [Roorbach] was up to something embarrassing"-as only the best neighbors do. There are other autobiographical books about Maine (e.g., Linda Tatelbaum's Carrying Water as a Way of Life and Louise Rich's We Took to the Woods), but Roorbach's writing is so immediate and compelling, his eye for the human condition so keen, that this is in a class of its own. An enjoyable addition for academic and public libraries.-Felicity D. Walsh, Emory Univ., Decatur, GA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A quest for the headwaters of a small stream in Maine becomes an obsession bound up in a celebration of life. Writer and sometime novelist Roorbach (The Smallest Color, 2001) begins his narrative as a teacher at Ohio State who finds himself, along with his wife Juliet, longing to be at the summer home they are refurbishing near Farmington, Maine whenever their inconveniently separate careers keep them away from it. This is a dilemma; so is the fact that her biological clock is ticking, yet the professor (now Contemporary American Letters, Holy Cross) is fixed on the idea of finding the source of Temple stream, a nearby "pocket paradise [of] birdsong and beaver work." But there are obstacles, like the moose-sized Earl Pomeroy, a lumbering (in all senses of the word) local who develops into Roorbach's fated nemesis-and firewood supplier-beginning with his colorfully articulated theory that yuppie academics on research sabbaticals are somehow ripping off honest taxpayers. His initial confrontation with Pomeroy crystallizes the Down Maine antipathy that anyone from "away" will immediately recognize-a friend will later explain that even after 30 years' residency, he and his wife are still regarded as "full-time summer people." Sourcing Temple Stream goes on, however, summer and winter, the author dragging his canoe past beaver dams and paddling long-abandoned millponds, crossing the same ponds frozen on cross-country skis, consulting flawed antique maps, etc., until the objective is finally reached. In the meantime, a baby girl arrives and Earl Pomeroy gets ugly. Rich and colorful language flows, too, as Roorbach notes that the local Walmart has "metastasized" to a Superstore in only a fewyears, and at another point a cluster of teenage boys arrives on scene "looking like they'd just said yes to drugs."Deft and evocative, making small adventures loom joyfully large.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608933938
Publisher:
Down East Books
Publication date:
12/07/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
300
Sales rank:
769,981
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

I call the stream ours because our house is in its valley and a corner of our land touches the stream at a dramatic bend, and because my wife and our daughter (always in the company of our dogs) walk down to that stream every morning, every season. The stream is our point of contact with all the waters of the world.

Meet the Author

Bill Roorbach is the author of the O.Henry Award-winning story collection Big Bend, as well of the novels The Smallest Color and Life Among Giants, now in development for an HBO series. He also wrote the memoir, Summers with Juliet and the essay collection Into Woods. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Atlantic, Harper's Monthly, Granta, and the New York Times Magazine. He lives with his family in Farmington, Maine.

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