Hanlon’s observations are as gently propulsive as the rhythmic stroke of a swim fin.



A fluently rendered ode to tidal creeks and salt marshes and to a life in their embrace.

In this celebration of the Great Marsh, New England’s largest remaining continuous stretch of salt marsh, painter and writer Hanlon melds the sensibilities of a Southern California childhood with those of a 40-year resident of coastal Massachusetts. She also compares this complex ecosystem to those of the vastly larger Mississippi Delta and a Bahamian reef. Science is a key element in the book, but the narrative is viewed best as an account of the experience of four seasons of immersion in the flora, fauna, and tides of extensively protected marsh. Her realm may at times be turbid, but her prose is clear—graceful in its descriptive power though allowing for the occasional tributary into lyricism. The first half of the book is about exploring the same landscape repeatedly year-round, accreting knowledge of an estuary: its cycles, processes, and patterns. Hanlon provides a biologic (and microbiologic) cross section of the salt marsh habitat, the grasses that fortify it, and the fauna that subsist on its largesse. In the second half, the author reflects a need to understand “something of our current cultural and evolutionary moment, with both its tragedies and its possibilities.” Hanlon understands how our moral imagination exerts a profound influence on our thoughts, attitudes, and actions, and her various warnings on the rising threats facing vital marshlands nationwide are no less important for being familiar. Also coursing through this tale are the currents of her marriage and shared passions with her husband, also an artist, with asides on their custom wood furniture business, children, and grandchildren. Readers not especially enamored of the idea of swimming in tidal creeks and rivers day after day may find portions of the book a bit monotonous—but not if they appreciate the theme of deep human integration in the natural world.

Hanlon’s observations are as gently propulsive as the rhythmic stroke of a swim fin.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-942658-87-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A quiet delight of a book.



A journalist’s biography of the unassuming but gutsy 67-year-old Ohio grandmother who became the first person to walk all 2,050 miles of the Appalachian Trail three times.

When Emma Gatewood (1887–1983) first decided she would hike the A.T., she told no one what she planned to do—not even her 11 children or 23 grandchildren. Instead, she quietly slipped away from her home in May 1955 and began her walk at the southern terminus of the trail in Georgia. Accomplishing this feat—which she often described as “a good lark”—was enough for her. Tampa Bay Times staff writer Montgomery tells the story of Gatewood’s first hike and those that followed, interweaving the story with the heartbreaking details of her earlier life. He suggests that this woman, who eventually came to be known as “Queen of the Forest,” was far from the eccentric others claimed she was. Instead, Montgomery posits that this celebrated hiker used long-distance walking to help her come to terms with a dark secret. At 18, Gatewood married a man she later discovered had a violent temper and an insatiable sexual appetite. Despite repeated beatings over 30 years, she remained with him until he nearly killed her. Afterward, she lived happily with her children for almost 20 years. Montgomery suggests that an article in National Geographic may have been what first inspired Gatewood to hike the trail. However, as her remarkable trek demonstrated, while the A.T. was as beautiful as the magazine claimed, it was also in sore need of maintenance. Gatewood’s exploits, which would later include walking the Oregon Trail, not only brought national attention to the state of hikers’ trails across a nation obsessed with cars and newly crisscrossed with highways; it also made Americans more aware of the joys of walking and of nature itself.

A quiet delight of a book.

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61374-718-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.


The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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