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Wild Thoughts from Wild Places


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David Quammen's "The Song of the Dodo" received the John Burroughs Medal for Natural History Writing.

Table of Contents

Synecdoche and the Trout
Time and Tide on the Ocoee River
Only Connect
Grabbing the Loop
The White Tigers of Cincinnati
To Live and Die in L.A.
Reaction Wood
Superdove on 46th Street
Before the Fall
Pinhead Secrets
The Keys to Kingdom Come
Karl's Sense of Snow
The Trees Cry Out on Currawong Moor
The Big Turn
Eat of This Flesh
The Swallow That Hibernates Underwater
Trinket from Aru
Bagpipes for Ed
Point of Attachment
Voice Part for a Duet
Love in the Age of Relativity
Strawberries Under Ice
Notes and Provenance

About the Author

David Quammen has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for nonfiction and an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his novels, stories, and essays. He is a two-time winner of the National Magazine Award for science essays and other work in Outside magazine. He is the author of several books, including The Song of the Dodo. Quammen lives in Montana.


From Tasmania to Los Angeles and about a dozen other places, Quammen traveled far and wide to research this collection of essays. A former novelist, he writes with a freshness, vitality, and sense of humor unique in this genre. (LJ 1/98)

James Gorman The New York Times Book Review Quammen has a wide range of knowledge, an agile pen and a generous heart.
Lisa Shea Elle So thrilling to read is science writer David Quammen's essay collection that you actually experience moments of believing you have been transported to some of the ferocious or fairy-tale-like locales he reports on....Quammen is no ordinary writer. He is simply astonishing, one of that rare class of writer gifted with verve, ingenuity, humor, guts, and great heart.

"Humanity badly needs things that are big and fearsome and homicidally wild," contends acclaimed science writer Quammen (The Song of the Dodo) in this collection of short pieces, most of which appeared originally in Outside magazine. Quammen is an eloquent and witty apologist for the forces of nature that "civilized" people often want tamed: whitewater rivers, avalanche-prone peaks, even cougars or coyotes living near suburban backyards. Despite the dangers and inconveniences such forces might pose to people, "they give us perspective," Quammen writes. "They testify that God... might not be dead after all." Though his point of view is often not especially original and his analyses are necessarily brief, Quammen brings a well-honed sense of irony to essays that range from meditations on trout habitats to an exploration of Tasmanian geography and genocide. He is at his best when he muses on the deeper meanings of such phenomena as the physical properties of vortices, the life cycles of the barnacle or the evolutionary benefits of mammalian monogamy. Some essays, however, like "You Can Run," which deals with viral outbreaks, seem dated‘as do the several pieces on kayaking and skiing competitions. While Quammen's sportswriting is superior to most, it isn't outstanding enough to merit inclusion here. Nevertheless, the collection as a whole is distinguished by Quammen's broad-ranging intelligence, keen wit and unabashed passion for wild things and places. (Feb.)

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