Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Book Stall Review: Field Notes

Field Notes by Richard Quinney
Borderland Books, 2008

Reading the four essays and prologue in this volume of nature prose is like taking a stroll in the woods with a literary philosopher whose penchant for rural life informs every step and observation. These rambling conversations draw inspiration from the transcendentalists Emerson and Thoreau and the naturalist Gilbert White in their respect for the lessons and wisdom that can be drawn from nature.

"Each life is a universe unto itself. A big bang. Sperm collides with egg. There you are," Richard Quinney explains. "Then a lifetime of galaxies and stars and planets and asteroids flying and orbiting in a vast and expanding space. More dark matter than light. Shiva dancing. A great mystery. And a beautiful morning it is this day. I keep notes along the way. Now and then an accounting and some reflecting."

Quinney's Field Notes, illustrated with his black-and-white photographs of rural Wisconsin, combines the ethereal reflections of literature with the palpable realities of nature observation to produce a record of the scholar's life at this point in time. "With pen in hand and camera at my side, traveling between town and country, I make my notes and live this day. One world at a time, here on earth."

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