Thursday, November 3, 2011

Top ten wilderness books

Philip Connors was born in Iowa and grew up on a farm in southwest Minnesota. He attended the University of Montana, and then worked for several years at the Wall Street Journal, mostly as an editor on the Leisure & Arts page. In 2002, he left the paper for a seasonal job with the U.S. Forest Service in New Mexico. His writing has appeared in n+1, Harper's, the London Review of Books, The Nation, and elsewhere.

His "Diary of a Fire Lookout," which first appeared in the Paris Review, was selected for inclusion in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009 and became the basis for his first book, Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout.

"Wilderness in its purest sense may be gone," he wrote in the Guardian, "but wild remnants remain, and many of my favourite books in the genre celebrate a particular place (often in America), cherishing what is native and mourning what's been lost."

One of Connors's top ten wilderness books:
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Based on real-life events along the Mexican-American border in the 1840s, McCarthy's novel about a group of bounty hunters reminds us that the European encounter with untamed frontiers in America was a very bloody business. The leader of the group, very learned but wholly barbarous, sums it up this way: "If war is not holy man is nothing but antic clay."
Read about the other entries on the list.

Blood Meridian is one authority's pick for the Great Texas novel and is among six books that made a difference to Kazuo Ishiguro, Clive Sinclair's top 10 westerns, Maile Meloy's six best books, and David Foster Wallace's five direly underappreciated post-1960 U.S. novels. It appears on the New York Times list of the best American fiction of the last 25 years and among the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King.

--Marshal Zeringue