THE NATURE OF NATURE by William H. Shore


New Essays from America's Finest Writers on the Natural World
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 A hunt-and-peck collection of 30 pieces assembled to benefit Share Our Strength, a group dedicated to feeding the hungry. Shore (editor, Mysteries of Life and the Universe, 1992) has managed to gather a host of fine nature writers, but with mixed results. Al Gore's flimsy introduction leads with ``John Muir once wrote''--you can almost hear the snores rising off the page. But then there is Diane Ackerman's smart take on summer (``Summer''), with its bright and insightful appreciation of birds. The good and the not-so-good trade punches: Natalie Angier tries to get poetic as she recalls an urban childhood grappling with nature (``Natural Disasters''), but she is no Charles Simic, and the result is Kansas-flat and without humor. Then Edward Hoagland shines even as his eyesight dims (``Mind's Eyes''), and in his melancholy way he gathers a special sense of the land: learning to distinguish trees by the feel of their bark, finding walking ``such a puzzle as to be either exciting or tearful.'' Ted Kerasote (``Logging'') takes the adage ``An unexamined life isn't worth living'' and beats it to death; here it is logging rather than hunting (see Bloodties, 1993) he picks apart, but, Ted, an overexamined life gets darned boring. Thankfully, Karen Pryor delivers an extraordinary throng of birds (``A Gathering of Birds'') of many different feathers which gathered on a bush next to which she sat and stared at her--a bunch of birds out-humaning her, as it were. And so it goes. Half of the contributions are worth the trouble; .500 isn't a bad batting average, but it's not a great percentage when the quality of the authors is considered. Worth the price of admission all the same for the 15 crack nature essays gathered under one roof. (b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-15-100080-8
Page count: 356pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1994


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