A few weeks before the launch of Surprise Encounters with Artists and Scientists, Whales and Other Living Things, Kirkus wrote a friendly, incisive review at the invitation of my publisher at Wild River Books. At the launch in October, 2015, at our beloved Labyrinth book store in Princeton, I read a few of the 152 stories of encounters with the Dalai Lama, Carl Sagan, Edward Albee, Arthur C. Clarke, Edward O. Wilson, Sylvia Earle, Kenzaburo Oe, Theo Colborn, George Archibald, John Gardner, Charles Lindbergh, Gregory Bateson, Joseph Hirshhorn, Prince Philip, Cristo and Jean-Claude, Arthur Godfrey, Toshiko Takaezu, Lester Brown, Ta-tuan Ch’en, Aimee Morgana, Bill Murray, Thomas Kean, Sigourney Weaver, Ralph Nader, Alexey Yablokov. (This begins to sound like Dropped Names, a memoir by Frank Langella.) For nearly two hours, I inscribed books.
The Kirkus review sparked six five-star reviews on Amazon, among them generous tributes by Jim Babcock and Don Collins. Two comprehensive local reviews by Ilene Dube, WHYY Newsworks, and Dan Aubry in U.S. 1 were written. At the national level, Craig van Note wrote a compelling review for the Animal Welfare Institute quarterly and Genny Moriarty wrote a profile, “Channeling Ishmael’s Everlasting Itch” for The Exeter Bulletin in an issue devoted to “Currents of Thought: How Ideas Spread and Amplify Goodness and Knowledge.”
Thus far, a dozen readings and signings have occurred, the most recent at the New York Explorer’s Club, plus an hour interview on NPR. While not all of this was triggered by the Kirkus review, it did set a strong note that has echoed in other places, for which I am grateful.
Poet, naturalist, and grant-maker, Scott McVay headed the Robert Sterling Clark and Geraldine R. Dodge foundations and was an active trustee of two other foundations. McVay served as the 16th president of the Chautauqua Institution. McVay is author of a collection of poetry, Whales Sing and Other Exuberances, plus chapters in books, scientific papers, op-eds in the New York Times and Washington Post. He served on boards of the Smithsonian and the World Wildlife Fund and others.