A Wild, Rank Place: One Year on Cape Cod
David GessnerE-book: $12.99
|E-book ISBN 13:|
|E-book Publication Date:||06/01/2012|
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Searingly honest, unabashedly groping, Gessner's essays are articulations of recovery – from cancer, from life in land-locked Colorado, from a childhood with an alcoholic yet 'heroic' father, and from that father's own recent death from cancer. Yet far from being rooted solely in his psyche, Gessner's search for answers is also anchored in the geography and literature of the Cape, and in his faith in the healing power of ocean water.
A highly readable, disarmingly self-conscious meditation on life and nature, ancestry, and morality . . . There are small surprises on every page of this touching, troubling memoir.
For 32-year-old Gessner, 'Cancer is closing in like the tide,' but the art in his life still levitates him. He laces his book with the names and legacies of his literary creditors -- Emerson, William Carlos Williams, Edward Abbey, Keats, Whitman, Samuel Johnson, Montaigne: 'They drive me on.' Having faced his father's extinction and his own, Gessner realizes that he is like humanity at large: we 'get to the brink of extinction and then cram for the final exam of survival, pulling an all-nighter to save eternity.' That all-nighter is what is reflected in this rich and enlivening read. Although by the end, he is sick of following Thoreau, he has learned the crucial lessons of reducing his needs and finding his own path, one that he knows will finally lead him, like his father, back to Cape Cod.
Reveling in the smells of the sea, freshly cut grass, honeysuckle, sawdust, and even dead kelp, Gessner quietly provokes us into a heightened understanding of both nature and ourselves.
A Wild, Rank Place is an intensely written book about living an intense life. David Gessner is magnificently self-conscious, and therefore, paradoxically, he has written a book that will help each of us take stock of our lives.
DAVID GESSNER, author of Under the Devil's Thumb (1999) and Return of the Osprey (2001), teaches creative nonfiction at Harvard Extension School.