BAY COUNTRY by Tom Horton


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A collection of environmental essays about the Chesapeake Bay, by a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. Horton's sincere appreciations of the places and people of the Chesapeake Bay are touching and even illuminating on a limited scale, but rarely do they rise far enough above regional environmental journalism to present a more broadly compelling vision of nature. The author certainly knows his subjects--the birds, fish, plants, landscape, and people of the Bay--and there is no doubt that his extensive information about them will be valuable for future generations of local citizens and reporters, not to mention tourists to the area. But there is something disappointing about a book with as vast a scope as Horton's that is at once so factually dense and so rhetorically and intellectually narrow. We feel, somehow, that we have heard all this before. The best essay, on isolated Smith Island, gives a relatively complete picture of a stubborn, isolated race of fishermen trying to make the best of things in a world that keeps sending its television cameras in to film them. Here, one feels, Horton has had the chance to focus on a single place and group of people over an extended period of time, and to combine his impressions into a complex, coherent discussion. But even here his writing never quite breaks through the haze of nostalgia that somehow prevents this nature writer from seeing the sunshine of an original idea. Horton's ears are attuned to the wonder in the Chesapeake Bay, but unfortunately his translations leave something to be desired.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1987
ISBN: 080184875X
Publisher: Johns Hopkins