Homecoming: New Pete Fromm

I often feel a little weird sharing articles I wrote that “go live” online. It feels a little too, “Hey, look at me!” for my tastes. But not this time, damn it. Pete Fromm became one of my favorite writers way back when I first read Indian Creek Chronicles, and he deserves to be read and enjoyed by everybody. His new book, The Names of the Stars, is newly released, and I have a review in this week’s Independent. Here is an excerpt:

The main action in Stars revolves around Fromm’s return to the wilderness —  this time the Bob Marshall — in the spring of 2004 to babysit another batch of fish eggs. Unlike his previous experience, it’s only for a month, and Fromm is no longer a footloose young man. He’s pushing middle-age, is married and has two young sons. When he is first offered the job, he hopes to bring his sons out into the wilds with him, despite the Bob having the highest concentration of grizzly bears anywhere in the lower 48 states. Issues of liability and Forest Service bureaucracy prevent Fromm from taking them and he nearly decides not to go.

Check out the review HERE. I enjoyed the book very much. Definitely one of my favorite reads of the year.

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Fromm reading at S&Co, Sept. 2014
Fromm reading at S&Co, Sept. 2014

Crocodiles and Ice

jonturkIt’s been eleven years since I first encountered Jon Turk, which was also my first Montana Festival of the Book, circa 2005. I’ve mentioned Turk before HERE, and spoke specifically of his most recent big adventure HERE (which got him nominated as a National Geographic “Adventurer of the Year” at the age of 65). In 2005 he was promoting his most recent book at the time, In the Wake of the Jomon: Stone Age Mariners and a Voyage Across the Pacific. He was fascinating and engaging as a speaker, and I loved the book. So I followed up with the one that had preceded Jomon, Cold Oceans: Adventures in Kayak, Rowboat, and Dogsled. Loved that one too. Next up was The Raven’s Gift: A Scientist, a Shaman, and Their Remarkable Journey Through the Siberian Wilderness, which came out in 2006, and the event I attended at the University of Montana in support of that book was particularly profound to me.

In the past year, Jon and I have become friends. His life, and his stories, are fascinating. I’ve been pitching pieces related to him and his new book, Crocodiles and Ice: A Journey into Deep Wild, since early summer. One will be coming out in December. Hopefully it will be merely the first.

Meanwhile, if you are in Missoula, he is giving a presentation at the University tomorrow night, sponsored by Fact & Fiction. It’s well worth attending. Here are the details, from Jon:

Crocodiles and Ice is a scientist/adventurer’s journey into a Consciousness Revolution based on a deep, reciprocal communication with the Earth. The book highlights my award winning polar expedition circumnavigating Ellesmere Island, as well as other, lesser known passages. But, more critically, I tell the story of my lifelong journey from suburban Connecticut into a passion for Deep Wild, an ancient passage, repeated — in one form or another — countless times, and ignored just as often.

I invite my readers to listen to our Stone-Age ancestors, the poets of the ’60s, a wolf that lingers, a Siberian shaman, a Chinese bicycle nomad, a lonely Tlingit warrior laying down to die in a storm, and the landscapes themselves. Because beyond the wondrous and seductive opulence of our oil-soaked, internet-crazed, consumer-oriented society, there lies a glorious and sustainable lifestyle that is based on Deep Wild as a foundation of solace, sanity, compassion, and hope.

It’ll be from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM at the Underground lecture hall on campus. Hope to see some familiar faces there!

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Better, Bigger

In my interview with David Quammen, he said:

Ken Burns did his film series on America’s National Parks, and he did a very fine job; he calls it ‘America’s Best Idea.’ Even on the back of my book it says ‘America’s Best Idea.’ But I quarrel with that phrase. I don’t think it was ‘America’s Best Idea,’ there were some other very, very good ideas that America had like constitutional democracy; like government of the people, by the people, for the people. What Yellowstone is, is a good idea that has gotten much better and a big idea that has gotten much bigger. But it didn’t start as a great idea.

The following are some shots from Quammen’s event at Fact & Fiction last Friday night. The man is an excellent presenter, even with a technical glitch here and there. The discussion was entirely about Yellowstone, and I found it fascinating. If you ever get a chance to attend one of Quammen’s events, I urge you to do so.

Birthday, Decay, Love

This is a screenshot of one of the chapters that comprises my friend Barry Graham’s new book, Nothing Extra: Notes On the Zen Life (Zen for Real Life) (Volume 3). It might be one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read.

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Maybe it hits me extra hard because I just turned another year older myself a couple days ago, and have thought long and hard about my own decay, what is acceptable because of age, and what is unacceptable because of my own behavior. In the midst of that, it’s always good to be reminded of the beauty in life as well.

Graham is a noir author, journalist and Zen Buddhist monk, and a fine companion to tip a beer or two with. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything of his I’ve read, and Nothing Extra in particular is bringing me much to reflect on lately. I highly recommend it.

 

It Was Easy if You Tried to Keep Calm

I think we all saw it coming soon, but it’s still a shock when it happens. I posted this yesterday morning to Facebook when I first learned the news:

I got up this morning and made some coffee. While it brewed, I watched the birds outside at the feeder. Mostly red-winged blackbirds, though a northern flicker joined them. A few sparrows. Then the neighborhood chickens arrived, followed by some mourning doves. I lingered a little with my wife, who typically works Sundays. Three cheers to Jesus for getting her the time off today. Finally, I sat at the counter and drank some coffee and finished reading a novella called “The Man Who Gave Up His Name.” It’s about a man who leaves corporate work, gives away his money, and becomes a cook. I could relate to him, of course. It is a story written by my favorite writer, Jim Harrison, and is the middle novella in the collection of three that comprises his breakout book Legends of the Fall. I set the book aside, moved to my computer and opened up Twitter. The first post I saw was from Benjamin Percy, offering up an RIP to Harrison, who died yesterday, and I find, despite having never met the man (though one time I did sit outside the driveway of his Arizona home where he died), that I miss him already.

I’m sad. I’m grateful I was able to review his most recent collection of poetry for the Indy. I’m also grateful I still have so much of his work to read for the first time. That doesn’t make it any easier.

It is good to see so many folks offering their thoughts about Harrison. His importance to me as a writer cannot be overstated, especially as a man with fewer years left in life than what I’ve already used up. There are many of his excellent quotes floating around, and I’ve collected my share. However, I am going to close with the following, from “The Man Who Gave Up His Name,” which represents the final paragraph I read while still thinking Jim Harrison was alive.

At midnight Nordstrom was sitting in the dark in his hotel bedroom looking at the moon and thinking about lily pads. Sonia had insisted he go to the Museum of Modern Art to see the huge paintings of lily pads by Monet and he had gone after lunch, staring at them utterly blankminded for an hour. Now in the moonlight all of the lily pads on the lakes of northern Wisconsin revolved before him. Sometimes they had small buttery-yellow flowers and sometimes they had large white flowers, strong with an eerie perfume he could smell twenty-five years later in a hotel room. He didn’t know if in the morning he would leave on his trip or go to Wisconsin for a few weeks. Bass hid under the lily pads and he used to swim under them and look upward so that the pads looked like small green islands in the air refracting the light. He had given the cocaine to the Sephard over dinner. The Sephard had been relieved but puzzled when Nordstrom insisted that Slats and Sarah were “nice people.” The was a neurotic English girl with a perfect fanny with the Sephard. She wanted to call a friend for Nordstrom but he said no. He was really quite tired. Just breathing on the bed in the moonlight seemed quite enough for the moment. First you breathed in, then out, and so on. It was easy if you tried to keep calm.

 

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Lily pad via iPhone, Seeley Lake, Montana, August 2012