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.

Wild at Heart

I had the pleasure last week to interview one of my writing heroes, David Quammen. It may not be a big deal to some, but last May’s issue of National Geographic that focused on Yellowstone National Park was written single-handedly by Quammen. That, when it comes to magazine writing, is a pinnacle achievement. He will be in Missoula Friday for an event, and my interview — a much-abbreviated version of our full conversation — is in this week’s issue of the Independent. I hope you can check it out, because the guy is loquacious and fascinating. Here’s an excerpt:

When you realized you were actually writing an entire issue of National Geographic, did you have any particular “Holy shit!” moments?

David Quammen: It was a “holy shit” moment for me. And there were a few times after I accepted this project that I had a few of those “holy shit” moments at 4 a.m., thinking, “How in the world am I gonna do this?” What I was thinking was, everyone has already read books about Yellowstone, at least in this region and the world that we live in. And across America people think that they know Yellowstone and what it’s about. The first challenge was how to make it new, how to make it fresh, how to make it interesting. So I worked very hard on trying to do that, to make it serious and probing and unexpected.

I’m looking forward to the event Friday. If you are near Missoula, you should check it out.