DAWN LIGHT by Diane Ackerman

DAWN LIGHT

Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day

KIRKUS REVIEW

Ackerman (An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain, 2004, etc.) luxuriates in the break of day.

The author experiences dawn as a powerful borderland that accommodates both dreaminess and awareness. She celebrates the sighting of a crane flying overhead and meditates on the use of the bird in Oriental art and Greek myth. Moving gracefully between erudition and whimsy, Ackerman demonstrates an intelligent, humble approach to science: “Science is a tribute to our cleverness, but we are fallible and we filter out so much of the world.” The book is arranged by season; the chapters are mostly short and rich with imagery and insight. The author is always comfortable following her fancy, whether considering a spider’s web illuminated at first light, the mechanics of sunflowers, an astounding daybreak cloud, a lover slipping away at dawn in The Pillow Book, Monet painting “the lavish spell of the senses detained by a pink and blue sunrise” or the “chatterbox chorale” coming through the window from all manner of bird, the best of which has got to be the crow: “I’m up, dammit. I’m up! I survived another night on this godforsaken planet! Beat that!”—an imagined greeting that reminds the author “that a mass of crows is called a murder of crows.”

A lovely, learned invitation to “the ancient thrill of impending sunlight.”

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-393-06173-4
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2009




Kirkus Interview
Diane Ackerman
author of THE HUMAN AGE
September 8, 2014

Diane Ackerman is a poet who happens to write about science. Her latest book, The Human Age, is about the unprecedented fact that the human race is now the single dominant force of change on the planet. Humans have “subdued about 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” Ackerman acknowledges the chaos humans have caused to the environment and yet she is still “enormously hopeful,” as she writes in the book, about how positive our interaction with Earth can be. We ask Ackerman about a few little things in this Kirkus TV interview: nature, evolution, humanity. View video >

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