Review by Booklist Review
Best known as the youngest of the major 1950s Beat poets, Snyder bids fair to be the wisest as well. Among the Beats, only Philip Whalen, who is a Zen monk, has embraced Buddhism as thoroughly, and none has pursued ecological and anthropological study as deeply. Snyder is vastly and respectably learned in the ways of beasts and forests and the religions and myths of non-Occidental cultures, especially those of the Pacific basin. He has achieved a universality of vision about how humans, beasts, plants, and the other creations on this planet interrelate and interdepend that is astonishing and humbling. He writes of his vision with utter clarity and grace and a conviviality perhaps surprising in a man who has lived so much in the mountains. He has come to see that, in fact, we all live in the wild, first within our own bodies with their myriad purposeful but involuntary actions, and that a worshipful, stewardly, yet self-distinguishing relationship with the rest of the wild is humanity's optimum life-style. For Americans, there is no better primer on this way of life, which is of course also the Way of Taoism, than Snyder's essays. They constitute the finest wisdom (and also ecological) literature of our time as they describe the how-to's and the necessity of being both "on the path" and "off the trail," that is, of being in the Way and engaging in "the practice of the wild," which he says "is also where--paradoxically--we do our best work." Bibliography. (Simultaneously with the publication of The Practice of the Wild, North Point is reprinting Snyder's influential volume of 1950s poetry, Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems.) --Ray Olson
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Essayist and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Snyder ( Turtle Island ) offers nine sensitive and thoughtful essays blending his personal Buddhist beliefs, respect for wildlife and the land, and fascination with language and mythic tradition into a ``meditation on what it means to be human.'' In ``The Place, the Region, and the Commons,'' he relates the old English concept of the common to publicly held U.S. forests, expressing concern that Americans, who lack an intimate familiarity with the land, ``are not actually living here intellectually, imaginatively, or morally.'' ``Tawny Grammar,'' referring to a Spanish phrase for knowledge of nature, examines this knowledge through a school curriculum in northwest Alaska that combines traditional native values and marketable skills. ``Ancient Forests of the Far West'' contrasts Snyder's experience as a logger in the 1950s, when the industry still exercised restraint, with the current depletion of American woodlands. And ``The Woman Who Married a Bear'' comments on relations between bears and humans through a Native American myth about a girl who is carried off by a grizzly that assumes the form of a man. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
More people should read this book than will. Snyder is, of course, an important writer, a Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry, and a spokesperson for the wilderness. Here in spare, eloquent prose, he presents a series of essays that probe the essence of humanity, nature, and their symbiosis. Sometimes Thoreauvian, sometimes way out past Thoreau, he argues, ``Nature is not a place to visit, it is home . . . .'' ``I want to talk about place as an experience,'' he proposes, and he really does. This is an important book for anyone interested in the ethical interrelationships of things, places, and people, and it is a book that is not just read but taken in. It is lamentable that many readers will spend their time taking in much lesser writers. Essential for all serious collections.-- Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Beat-Zen poet Snyder delivers his first nonfiction book in more than a decade, a collection of nine eccentric pieces on man and nature, some reprinted from Sierra magazine, Antaeus, etc. These essays are as hard to pin down as the wild animals that Snyder champions, leaping as they do from Japanese history to radical environmentalism to a theory of poetics. ""Etiquette of Freedom"" investigates the meaning of ""wild"" and ""free,"" with an excursion into Chinese etymology, and tells us that ""an ethical life is one that is mindful, mannerly, and has style."" ""The Place, the Region, and the Commons"" declares that every place has its place and plugs for bioregionalism. ""Tawny Grammar"" mulls over various forms of language, including dance. ""Good, Wild, Sacred"" celebrates shrines and the Australian dreamtime, ""Blue Mountains Constantly Walking"" looks at sacred geography. Other essays touch on ancient forests, memories of Snyder's youthful logging days and his Zen apprenticeship, the love of craftsmanship; ""The Woman Who Married a Bear"" is a notable retelling of a popular Native American folk-tale. Invariably, Snyder sings the praises of animals, condemns industrial development, urges a return to a simpler, earthbound life, and scorns the contributions of Western culture. His viewpoint, a natural if extreme extrapolation from the Beat and hippie movements, unfortunately finds voice far too often in preachy moralizing (""we must try not to be stingy, or to exploit others""; ""we need to make a world-scale 'Natural Contract' with the oceans, the air, the birds in the sky,"" etc.). Snyder's prose has finally assumed the features of that mythical Coyote he celebrates so often: clever, renegade, prone to howling. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.