THE GREEN TREES BEYOND: A Memoir by R.D. Lawrence


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The bittersweet memoir of a respected naturalist and novelist (The White Puma, 1990) who finds peace and a surprising measure of happiness in the Canadian wilderness after enduring years of bloody conflict. Lawrence enlisted in the Spanish Republican army at the age of 14 and escaped to France just in time for WW II. He fought in the British army as a tank commander for the next several years until receiving a medical discharge for severe leg wounds. He was left emotionally shattered by his war experiences and unable to connect with other human beings. The entire memoir can be read as his attempt to heal through contact with nature wounds that were inflicted by his earliest contacts with man. Lawrence seems to bury the emotional content of his war passages under a barrage of mind-numbingly detailed descriptions -- an understandable yet distracting idiosyncrasy. Similarly, he often slips into stilted scientific jargon when attempting to describe feelings and relationships, which can be quite jarring at times and often interrupts the flow of the narration. Only when describing the Canadian wilderness is Lawrence able to express any emotional connection to the story of his life, and perhaps the most telling passage of the memoir is his admission that he lived entirely without love until he was befriended by a ""savage brutalized wolf-dog."" Lawrence describes a life that has been fraught with danger and adventure at every turn, but which does not succumb to any stereotypical philosophy of bravado or machismo. This memoir should appeal to fans of Lawrence's nature writings, but may be hard reading for those not already acclimated to his at times tedious writing style.

Pub Date: June 13th, 1994
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Henry Holt