A welcome read for the outdoor inclined.

THE NATURE INSTINCT

RELEARNING OUR SIXTH SENSE FOR THE INNER WORKINGS OF THE NATURAL WORLD

It all comes down to paying attention: Naturalist Gooley (How to Read Nature, 2017, etc.) writes affectingly of how to recapture our ability to live in the real world with senses “almost forgotten and steamrollered by our modern lifestyle.”

If you scare a fish, which way will it dart? That’s the kind of thing you might find highly useful to know if you lived near a stream and far from any other source of provisions. It’s also the kind of thing you’re not likely to know unless you’ve logged time splashing around with startled fish, which is where wilderness guide and interpreter Gooley comes in. “I have sat with Dayak tribespeople,” he writes with luminous awe, “as they explained that a deer would appear over the brow of a hill, and was amazed moments later when my eyes met those of a muntjac in the predicted spot.” How would a Dayak know the exact moment when a deer would emerge? Sight, sound, smell—and perhaps the law of probability, which suggests that a deer might appear at a salt lick or creek within a certain range of times over another range of times. Other lessons the author brings back from the wild include how to know when a leopard is watching you and how to know when one of those aforementioned deer is pretty sure you’re not going to catch it. Of course, even the most attentive predator is successful only a small percentage of the time, but knowing that is part of knowing the world, too. Gooley’s book, which features occasional illustrations by Gower, is a useful owner’s manual for anyone who likes to get outdoors and be immersed in something beyond the asphalt—whether part of an eddy in which “our scent is announcing our presence to any animal with a nose” or someone merely appreciative of the fact that vultures can discern the living from the dead from two miles away.

A welcome read for the outdoor inclined.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61519-479-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: The Experiment

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Whether you call this a personal story or nature writing, it’s poignant, thoughtful and moving—and likely to become a...

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H IS FOR HAWK

An inspired, beautiful and absorbing account of a woman battling grief—with a goshawk.

Following the sudden death of her father, Macdonald (History and Philosophy/Cambridge Univ.; Falcon, 2006, etc.) tried staving off deep depression with a unique form of personal therapy: the purchase and training of an English goshawk, which she named Mabel. Although a trained falconer, the author chose a raptor both unfamiliar and unpredictable, a creature of mad confidence that became a means of working against madness. “The hawk was everything I wanted to be: solitary, self-possessed, free from grief, and numb to the hurts of human life,” she writes. As a devotee of birds of prey since girlhood, Macdonald knew the legends and the literature, particularly the cautionary example of The Once and Future King author T.H. White, whose 1951 book The Goshawk details his own painful battle to master his title subject. Macdonald dramatically parallels her own story with White’s, achieving a remarkable imaginative sympathy with the writer, a lonely, tormented homosexual fighting his own sadomasochistic demons. Even as she was learning from White’s mistakes, she found herself very much in his shoes, watching her life fall apart as the painfully slow bonding process with Mabel took over. Just how much do animals and humans have in common? The more Macdonald got to know her, the more Mabel confounded her notions about what the species was supposed to represent. Is a hawk a symbol of might or independence, or is that just our attempt to remake the animal world in our own image? Writing with breathless urgency that only rarely skirts the melodramatic, Macdonald broadens her scope well beyond herself to focus on the antagonism between people and the environment.

Whether you call this a personal story or nature writing, it’s poignant, thoughtful and moving—and likely to become a classic in either genre.

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0802123411

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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