Nutrient broth""--as Janovy (Yellowlegs, Keith County Journal) terms the ""disordered array"" of his writing and...



Nutrient broth""--as Janovy (Yellowlegs, Keith County Journal) terms the ""disordered array"" of his writing and thinking--can indeed ""generate synthesis""; but this occasionally bracing swirl of scholarly matter, field observation, and bald preachments all too often bogs down in whimsy and self-indulgent antics. Driving along route 1-80, Janovy begins by reflecting on a giant outdoor mobile sculpture--an embodiment of total freedom and the ""shifting, changing intellectual experience."" Ne then examines the ""creative individuality"" of rugged ranchers in the Sandhills; explores the ways of chubs and suckers (and the students and fishermen who catch them); synthesizes the taped music of whales and country singers; roots about in the Love/Hate relationship among luckless motorists and mechanics, paired grebes and a muddy naturalist; pays a tribute to the South Platte River (in a chapter with the unfortunate title of ""The Town Whore"") and to the killifish which thrives on the river's turbulence; discusses starlings and cliff swallows constricted by tunnel vision--like fledgling students forbidden to hear Jane Fonds speak at the University; sings the praises of a local original, uneducated but close to the wonder of ideal academe; and ruminates on pioneering organisms--from prairie grass to Thunderboat drivers--who grasp the ""opportunities"" of ""disturbed areas."" He concludes with an underscoring of the human need for wilderness: ""What irony that our source of humanness is in the hands of those who require terms in dollars!"" Like other restless naturalist writers, Janovy trawls for a blither of insights, but too often they leap the net and sink in sermonizing and mere muddle. Too bad--the intermittent naturalist observations have a sharp, fresh edge.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1981