Thursday, October 11, 2012

Top ten natural histories

Caspar Henderson is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times, the Independent, and New Scientist. His The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary is due out in the US in 2013 from the University of Chicago Press.

One of his top ten natural histories, as told to the Guardian:
Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez (1984)

It's taken until the last slot to get to a book that is by most definitions "proper nature writing" in the sense of sustained descriptive writing about the natural world affectionately satirised by Evelyn Waugh in Scoop with "Feather-footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole". But Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape is the real McCoy: a work of tremendous ambition that combines description of natural forms and processes in an environment that is among the bleakest and richest on Earth with profound thought on human dwelling and alienation. Arctic Dreams is all the more remarkable in that, though published less than 30 years ago, the spectre of human made climate change is absent from its pages.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue