The human relationship to place is dynamic, and so is the writing that grows out of that fundamental connection. How is the genre we call nature writing changing? What are the most interesting evolutions of the form? What kind of nature writing does the world need now?
Join two acclaimed writers whose work has appeared in Orion, Robert Macfarlane and Rebecca Solnit, for a far-ranging discussion of how nature writing is evolving on both sides of the Atlantic.
Rebecca Solnit is the author of fifteen books about art, landscape, public and collective life, ecology, politics, hope, meandering, reverie, and memory. She is a contributing editor at Orion and Harper’s and frequent contributor to Tomdispatch.com. Robert Macfarlane is the author of the award-winning Mountains of the Mind, The Wild Places, and The Old Ways. He lives in Cambridge and was Chair of the 2013 Man Booker Prize.
Moderated by Orion‘s Editor, Jennifer Sahn, this live web event is free and open to all December 5, at 3 p.m. Eastern/noon Pacific, and at 8 p.m. GMT. Register here.
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Here’s a list of Robert Macfarlaneâ€™s recommended books and articles mentioned during the event today:
Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams
Samuel Beckett, Waiting For Godot
David Gessner, Sick of Nature
Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Rebecca Solnit, Hope In The Dark
Rebecca Solnit, Savage Dreams
Caspar Henderson, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings
Callum Roberts, The Ocean of Life: How our Seas Are Changing
Tim Robinson, Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage and : Labyrinth
WG Sebald, The Rings of Saturn
Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain
Tim Dee, Four Fields
Gilbert White, A Natural History of Selborne
JA Baker, The Peregrine
JG Ballard, The Drowned World
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Other Writings on Ecology and Conservation, ed. Curt Meine, Library of America edition (2012)
â€œNo Heaven on Earthâ€ by Verlyn Klinkenborg, Bookforum, 2008
â€œSuper natural: the rise of the new nature writing,â€ by Tim Dee, The National, Aug 22, 2013:
…and Rebecca Solnit’s ~
Thoreau, The Maine Woods & Walden & various essays
Mary Austen, Land of Little Rain
Willa Cather, Death Comes to the Archbishop & My Antonia
Peter Freuchenâ€™s Arctic chronicles
Carobeth Laird, Encounters with an Angry God
George Stewart, Names on the Land
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Susan Griffin, Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her
Carolyn Merchant, The Death of Nature
Leslie Marmon Silko, Garden in the Dunes & Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit
Paul Shepard, Man in the Landscape & Nature and Madness
Charles Bowden, Blood Orchid
Louise Erdrich, The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse
Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines (problematic but majestic)
Robyn Davidson, Tracks
TTW, Refuge (Leap?)
Jaime de Anguloâ€™s writings on Native Californians
Jim Harrison, Dalva and The Shape of the Journey
John Haines, The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer [poems]
Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams
Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America & Collected Poems
Richard K. Nelsonâ€™s writings on subarctic peoples
Piers Vitebsky, The Reindeer People
Gary Paul Nabhan, The Desert Smells Like Rain
Chip Ward, Canaries on the Rim
Jane Tompkins, West of Everything
Jill Fredston, Rowing to Latitude
Keith Basso, Wisdom Sits in Places
Hugh Brody, The Other Side of Eden
Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place & garden essays
William Kittridge, Hole in the Sky & Having It All
Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild (and Tom Killian and Gary Snyder, Tamalpais Walking and The High Sierra of California)
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography
Bill McKibben, Eaarth, Deep Economy, Oil and Honey
Andrew C. Isenberg, The Destruction of the Bison
Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire
Alan Weisman, The World Without Us
Rob MacFarlane, Mountains of the Mind & The Wild Places
Amy Leach, Things That Are
Thank you for this comprehensive list!
also Peter Matthiessen?
I just found today re a scholarly reading site: USGS wildlife health center:
Do the authors Rebecca and Robert have any comments on the book: “Your Brain on Nature” by Selhub and Logan?
It is excellent that Orion paired Rebecca Solnit and Robert Macfarlane. Your writings, for me are both wondrous in new perspectives, and familiar. Each harkens back in its own way to the best of nature writing a hundred years ago â€“ writings that forever changed peoples behaviors.
As an urban dweller I gain much from Solnitâ€™s writing on the practitioners of the city while Macfarlane sojourns us on remarkable pathways with a key sense of once and future. Solnit reminds me of John Burrough bringing life to backyard wildlife, as well as Charles Eliotâ€™s need for nature in the urban. Macfarlane picks up seamlessly for me on John Muir taking a walk 1,000 miles across country and travels in Yosemite.
Is it wrong to draw such lines, to so box you?
Bravo to you both for continuing the complexities and challenging us to see a new.
You remind that the work of nature writers today is no easier than the work of those establishing national parks and the nature study movement a century ago. The only thing that gets people to listen and to possibly modify behaviors is to say it very well. Thanks to you for making the familiar strange and for vanquishing the mundane of urban life and the routes we travel.
About familiar strange, as an aside, I am still having difficulties getting my head around walking a trail barefoot on water. Very glad it was off of England and not in the Sea of Galilea. No less strange may have been my experience of swimming in the Sargasso Sea where the water was so clear one felt weightless, floating over a daunting height of nothingness.