Under the Devil's Thumb

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Overview

David Gessner first moved to Colorado in the wake of a bout with cancer. In Under the Devil's Thumb, this young New Englander takes readers on a joyous quest to discover the mysteries of the western landscape and the landscape of the soul as well. In the West Gessner began to rewrite his life. Under the Devil's Thumb is a story of rugged determination and sweat, as well as humor, adventure and hope. In and around his new hometown of Boulder, Colorado, Gessner hiked hard and ran alongside flooded creeks. He found that the West was a place of stories—stories that grow out of the ground, flow out of the dirt, work their way through one's limbs, and drive people to push their physical limits. Hiking up scree slopes toward the Devil's Thumb, a massive outcrop of orange rock that attracts climbers, hikers, and contemplaters, Gessner reflects on the illness he has so recently survived. He pushes his physical limits, hoping to outrun death, to outrun dread. He finds momentary transcendence in the joys and self-inflicted pain of mountain biking. "Nothing but the hardest ride has the power to flush out worry, mind clutter, and dread." In tranquil moments he seeks a chance to recover an animal self that is strong and powerful enough to conquer mountains, but also still and quiet enough to see things human beings ignore. In the mountain West, Gessner finds what Wallace Stegner called "the geography of hope." He finds within himself an interior landscape that is healthy and strong. Combining memoir, nature writing, and travel writing, Under the Devil's Thumb is one man's journey deep into a place of healing.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
As a young recovering cancer patient, Gessner (A Wild, Rank Place, Univ. Pr. of New England, 1997) moved from his family home on Cape Cod to the mountains of Boulder, CO. This collection of vignettes examines Gessner's newfound love of Boulder and the West as he explores and learns the natural history of the area. Stressing the importance of storytelling as a means of becoming connected to the land on which one lives, Gessner follows in the footsteps of Edward Abbey as he deals with the loss of his father, family dynamics, getting married, and the impact of ego on maleness. His various trips throughout the West reveal a joy in life and the outdoors that most readers will find contagious. Recommended for natural history and regional collections.--Tim J. Markus, Evergreen State Coll. Lib., Olympia, WA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816519248
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 213
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

David Gessner is the author of A Wild, Rank Place: One Year on Cape Cod. His political cartoons have appeared regularly in the Boulder Weekly and High Country News. A resident of Boulder for five years, he spends his time between Colorado and East Dennis, Massachusetts.

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