Books and Blurbs below
Blurbs for Books:
All the Wild That Remains:
Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West
By David Gessner
A New York Times Bestseller
An Amazon Best Nonfiction Book of 2015
A Kirkus Best Book of 2015 and best books about Significant Figures in the Arts and Humanities
The Christian Science Monitor's Top Ten Nonfiction Book of the Year
Southwest Book of the Year
A Smithsonian Best History Book
To the Best of Our Knowledge Top Ten book of the year
"If Stegner and Abbey are like rivers, then Gessner is the smart, funny, well-informed river guide who can tell a good story and interpret what you're seeing." The Los Angeles Review of Books:
"Having known both Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner and having considered them my friends, I applaud the value of this book in elevating their names." —Robert Redford.
""David Gessner has been a font of creativity ever since the 1980s, when he published provocative political cartoons in that famous campus magazine, the Harvard Crimson. These days he's a naturalist, a professor and a master of the art of telling humorous and thought-provoking narratives about unusual people in out-of-the way-places. To his highly original body of work, he brings a sense of awe for the untamed universe and a profound appreciation for the raucous literature of the West. "All the Wild That Remains" ought to be devoured by everyone who cares about the Earth and its future. "For me there is no wild life without a moral life," Gessner writes with all the force that Henry David Thoreau might have expressed. All the Wild That Remains" offers a contemporary call of the wild that resonates loudly and clearly from one coast to the other " --The San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/books/article/All-the-Wild-That-Remains-by-David-Gessner-6305677.php
"As I was reading "All the Wild That Remains," I found myself wondering if Gessner too had not written a book that would make people act. And I wondered how this so-called biography could deliver such an emotional punch. I was expecting to be educated, but not inspired, not for the raw spirit of these two men to rise from the language into my consciousness….The loose but artful weave of the two narratives gives the book a rare creative tension. But it is deepened by a third narrative line, that of Gessner himself, the first-person storyteller, whose honest voice is full of insight and humor."—The Chicago Tribune http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/books/ct-prj-all-the-wild-that-remains-20150514-story.html
"These two men are the contrasting heroes of a profoundly relevant and readable new book by David Gessner: All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West. In this artful combination of nature writing, biography, literary criticism, and cultural history, Gessner studies two fascinating characters who fought through prose and politics to defend the fragile ecologies and transcendent beauties of the West." ---The Christian Science Monitor (The CSM picked All the Wild as their number one book of April.)
Gessner's book serves as an excellent primer to readers new to Abbey and Stegner, and an insightful explanation of their continuing relevance. Gessner, an important nature writer and editor in his own right, also uses the writers' lives as a template for his exploration of the Western landscape they lived in and wrote about. He visits places that were important to Abbey and Stegner, and draws trenchant conclusions about the current state of affairs in a region still battling over how to best protect and exploit its fragile resources.
Gessner's reporting, whether profiling Stegner and Abbey's acolyte Wendell Berry or observing the consequences of Vernal, Utah's fracking boom, is vivid and personable. In his able hands, Abbey and Stegner's legacy is refreshed for a new generation of readers. Perhaps now even the Easterners will take notice. The Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/westerners-with-sharp-pens/2015/05/21/3b4193e2-e1fe-11e4-b510-962fcfabc310_story.html
"If Stegner and Abbey are like rivers, then Gessner is the smart, funny, well-informed river guide who can tell a good story and interpret what you're seeing." Justin Wadland The Los Angeles Review of Books:
"[Gessner] never reduces either man to simplistic categories, but sees in both personalities possible life models." –David Mason, Wall Street Journal http://www.wsj.com/articles/book-review-all-the-wild-that-remains-by-david-gessner-finding-abbey-by-sean-prentiss-1430515926
"They are legends, Abbey and Stegner, and bringing them together in a book like this, in the manner chosen by Gessner, was a stroke of genius. If you know and love the work of these two authors, read All the Wild That Remains and then re-read at least parts of Abbey and Stegner. If not, read Abbey and Stegner first, at least one book by each man, and then read All the Wild That Remains." Dallas Morning News. http://www.dallasnews.com/lifestyles/books/20150417-review-all-the-wild-that-remains-edward-abbey-wallace-stegner-and-the-american-west-by-david-gessner.ece
Gessner's wacky sense of humor and rigorous mind, his delight in, as he calls it, "an antidote to the virtual age," and, especially, "the lost art of lounging" — have never been more evident than in his beautifully conceived new book, All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West. This timely mash-up of environmental journalism, biography, travel writing, and literary criticism has Gessner hitting the road in search of the real story behind "two of the most effective environmental fighters of the 20th century. What emerges is a joyful adventure in geography and in reading — and in coming to terms with how the domestic and the wild can co-exist over time.
Joy Horowitz The Los Angeles Review of Books http://lareviewofbooks.org/review/wild-literary-geographies-david-gessner
"These revelations, and Gessner's subtle humor, make for an absorbing read. Abbey's and Stegner's lives, Gessner says, 'are creative possibilities for living a life both good and wild.' That's something that many in the West still seek--and what makes this book such a great read for anyone living there."—Outside Magazine http://www.outsideonline.com/1962281/new-reads-following-two-iconic-authors-west
"All the Wild That Remains" is a cut above all those "in search of" books. David Gessner not only walks the walk but seeks out those who knew the two icons. He gives an insightful comparison of the two and applies their ideas to today's environmental problems.--Sandra Dallas The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/books/ci_28341164/non-fiction-works-reviewed-by-sandra-dallas-highlight
[All the Wild That Remains is] an incredibly enjoyable read. You'll feel like a co-conspirator on a great road trip through the West with not two, but three, great nature writers, sitting in the back seat, reveling in their stories….f Gessner isn't careful, one of these days he might just find himself in the same pantheon as Stegner, Abbey, Barry Lopez, Berry, Williams and our other invaluable chroniclers and seers of the West."--Clay Evans, The Boulder Daily Camera
"Gessner writes with a vividness that brings the serious ecological issues and the beauty of the land into to sharp relief. This urgent and engrossing work of journalism is sure to raise ecological awareness and steer readers to books by the authors whom it references."—Publishers' Weekly. Starred Review. Here's the full review: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-393-08999-8
"Stegner and Abbey 'are two who have lighted my way,' nature writer Wendell Berry admitted. They have lighted the way for Gessner, as well, as he conveys in this graceful, insightful homage to their work and to the region they loved."—Kirkus Review. Starred Review.
"This engaging book provides an intimate look at Edward Abbey (1927–89) and Wallace Stegner (1909–93), two of America's finest authors, both of whom chafed at being pigeonholed as regional writers. Certainly their fond, passionate focus was the American West, but there is much universality in their concerns. Gessner (Return of the Osprey) traveled to places they haunted, read all he could of their writings, and spoke with people who knew them well. His smooth, literate text is enhanced by photographs of Stegner and Abbey as well as chapter notes that read well. Stegner authored 46 works, including 13 novels, and won a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Abbey wrote 28 books, was a Fulbright Scholar at Edinburgh University, and may be best known for his book Desert Solitaire, which is often said to be as worthy as Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Stegner, clean cut, traditional, with a PhD, and Abbey, an uncompromising anarchist and atheist with a 1960s-ish appearance and lifestyle, provide rich grist for Gessner's mill, which he fully exploits for the benefit of any reader. Gessner himself has penned nine books. All three authors qualify as important environmentalists and writers. VERDICT Highly recommended for everyone interested in literature, environmentalism, and the American West."—Library Journal
ATWTR is now an editor's pick at Amazon and a staff pick at Powell's where Shawn writes: "All the Wild That Remains is a fascinating portrait of the American West told through the lives of two of its most famous writers, Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner. This book champions their unique styles and will make you want to read (or reread) all of their work. It will also inspire you to get your car and head out on an extended road trip through this beautiful western landscape."
Two extraordinary men, and one remarkable book. To understand how we understand the natural world, you need to read this book." --Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth
"An excellent study of two difficult men."
— Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove and The Last Kind Words Saloon
PRAISE FOR OTHER GESSNER BOOKS
Leave It As It Is: A Journey Through Theodore Roosevelt's American Wilderness
Simon & Schuster. 2020.
"A rallying cry in the age of climate change." —Robert Redford
"The most engaging and powerful book about Western public lands that I have read in a long time. If you are not already in the fight. . . read this book and you will be inspired to get to work." —National Parks Traveler
"Passionate and timely . . . a brilliant exploration of Teddy Roosevelt's life and love of nature, and a wickedly wonderful read."—Jennifer Ackerman, author of The Genius of Birds and The Bird Way
"As we face environmental dangers unimagined in Roosevelt's day, Mr. Gessner asks what TR would do with our surviving wilderness. The impassioned response: Leave it as it is."—Wall Street Journal
"As a nature writer and teacher, Gessner is a wonderful guide."
"Writing with his heart on his well-traveled sleeve and a laser focus on the stunning beauty of the parks, Gessner shares an epic road trip through these storied lands."—BookPage
"A scholar-with-swagger, Gessner's as comfortable cracking a beer along a hiking trail as he is quoting from the Antiquities Act of 1906. The result is an earnest, knowledgeable, and straight-shooting guide, one whom readers can't help but feel close to as he links Roosevelt's America with our own."---Terrain.org
"An excellent look at the origins of environmentalism and an inspiring call to build upon what Roosevelt and other early environmentalists started."
"This combination of environmental journalism, biography, and travelog introduces fascinating characters who will engage readers of environmental literature as well as Roosevelt enthusiasts."
Ultimate Glory: Frisbee, Obsession and My Wild Youth. Riverhead. 2017.
"An exploration of the questing desires of the young heart, 'Ultimate Glory' should be recommended reading for every college student. A 20-something, unsure whether to listen to the yearnings of the soul, might find answers in Gessner's chase of a flying plastic disc."
The Washington Post
Read Full Review
"David Gessner spent 20 years of his youth in the game's thrall, and he revisits them in "Ultimate Glory: Frisbee, Obsession, and My Wild Youth," a joyous memoir that explains how "a 175-gram plastic disc" tempered his character and fate. Along the way we get marijuana, psychotropic mushrooms, sex, angst, friendships, cultural commentary, testicular cancer and lots of beer. The word Frisbee "is a hard one to take seriously," Mr. Gessner admits. But his book is substantial, bearing comparison to William Finnegan's Pulitzer Prize-winning surfing memoir, 'Barbarian Days' (2015).
The Wall Street Journal
Read Full Review
FROM PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:
Gessner reflects with honesty and humor on his dedication to the sport of Ultimate Frisbee. He describes the sport's ragtag culture as well as his annual quest for a national championship during his formative 20s in the mid-1980s. Gessner defends Ultimate's anti-sport ethos but uses traditional sport themes, such as clutch performance, training regimes, and tournament drama. The book could have been tightened to more succinctly describe his musings on the idealistic and conflicting "Spirit of the Game" philosophy and the ambivalent effect of Ultimate on his behavior, relationships, and, most intriguingly, a writing career in desperate need of a jump start. What saves the book is, in Ultimate parlance, Gessner's ability to "lay out" (to dive while making a catch): he is honest, especially in his observation of how he's matured since his Frisbee days. He also remains entertainingly unrepentant about a decade spent in the throes of a game that itself was evolving beyond its carefree image. Gessner nicely captures the persistent pursuit of greatness in the face of doubt and failure.
Learn more at www.ultimateglory.net
And watch the fun NFL-Films style trailer: https://vimeo.com/217178323
FROM BALTIMORE'S CITY PAPER:
A sprawling memoir and charting of one semi-toxic male's evolution as viewed through the oft-derided, but very popular and high-impact sport of ultimate frisbee, "Ultimate Glory: Frisbee, Obsession, and My Wild Youth" also ruminates on aging, the creative process, and calming down. And if not exactly selling out, then navigating the uncomfortable ways that the things that you care about a whole lot slip away or just change and why you'd be advised to just get used to that shit and hold onto the parts you can hold onto. It is also, as far as I know, the definitive history of ultimate frisbee—a sport co-created as a lark by the guy who later went on to produce "Lethal Weapon" and "The Matrix"—which went from "a sport few outside of it took seriously," to, well, something that matters to a sizable chunk of people these days.
Think of "Ultimate Glory: Frisbee, Obsession, and My Wild Youth" as a mock version of William Finnegan's "Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life," even down to the sunfaded oranges and browns of its cover design, where the tone is scrappier, sillier, and even more stoned, though just as reflective as Finnegan. (Brandon Soderberg)
Ultimate Glory: Frisbee, Obsession, and My Wild Youth.
What's the appeal of a nontraditional sport like Ultimate Frisbee? Self-officiated athletic competition, the thrill of outreaching your opponent for a flying disc (known as skying), team camaraderie, and membership in a tribe of nonconformists—all of which drew author Gessner (All the Wild That Remains, 2015) to the sport during his years at Harvard. This memoir offers both an insider's perspective on the unique culture of Ultimate, focusing on the 1980s and 1990s, and a poignant account of an aspiring writer as he transitions to manhood. Along the way, Gessner pays homage to the sport's pioneers, including Hall of Famers Kenny Dobyns and Steve "Moons" Mooney, and details classic battles between rival teams. The history of Ultimate may be young compared with basketball and football, but now that it's being considered for inclusion in the 2024 Summer Olympics, it's sure to gain a bigger stage. An important contribution to the history of Ultimate—not a "hippie-dippie" activity but an exciting sport requiring
tremendous athleticism worthy of respect. — Brenda Barrera
"Gessner's enthusiasm is unmistakable, and there's much to commend the story as a case in point of how a kid, once finding his or her métier, can make of a pastime a life-transforming experience." —Kirkus Reviews
THE TARBALL CHRONICLES
and DAVID GESSNER's Writing on the Gulf Oil Spill
Winner of the ASLE Book Award 2011-2012
Winner of the Reed Award for Best Book on the Southern Environment 2011
Top Books from the South 2011 Atlanta Journal Constitution
A San Francisco Chronicle Gift Book Recommendation
"Anyone who wanted a first-hand look at the Gulf after the news cycle ended will find it here . . . a brilliant, thoughtful book." —Publishers Weekly (STARRED review)
"If you read only one book about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill this year, it should be this one. If you plan not to read any books about it, make an exception for this blunt, funny, eye-opening quest to find the real stories behind the Gulf crisis."
For those interested in putting the Gulf crisis in perspective, there can be no better guide than this funny, often uncertain, frank, opinionated, always curious, informed and awestruck accounting of how we've gone wrong and could go right, a full-strength antidote to the Kryptonite of corporate greed and human ignorance. --Atlanta Journal Constitution
"Expressive and adventurous. A profoundly personal inquiry into the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe unique in its hands-on immediacy and far-ranging ruminations."
—Donna Seaman, Booklist
Gessner crafts a powerfully informative but also immensely relatable narrative. He shows that while the national media has moved on to other stories and the oil has sunk to the ocean floor, the full impact of the gulf oil spill remains to be seen and the questions it raised must still be answered. Somehow he succeeds in teaching without lecturing or moralizing, making "The Tarball Chronicles" entertaining and rousing despite its disheartening subject matter.
--Mother Nature Network
"David Gessner is on a roll." —New Orleans Times-Picayune
"Gessner has the heart and mind of an investigative journalist. . . . Not everyone will be pleased with this Jeremiah in our midst, but the word is a fire and a hammer, and Gessner delivers it well."
The Tarball Chronicles won the 2012 Reed Award for Best Book on the Southern Environment and the Association for Study of Literature and the Environment's award for best book of creative writing in 2011 and 2012. The ASLE judges on The Tarball Chronicles:
"David Gessner's The Tarball Chronicles takes the lyrical tradition of nature writing, adds a bit of a badass persona reminiscent of Edward Abbey, and brings both into the blighted Gulf of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Along the way, Gessner cultivates relationships that allow people across cultural, geographic, and political gaps to recognize their common interest in saving what is left in the world. Gessner doesn't hide from the damage, even as he asserts that there is a profound beauty still in nature, and that, if the future may not offer much hope, there's still, as Thoreau might say, a world out there to be lived in. And good lives--both human and not--still being led. This book is edgy, dynamic, darkly humorous, and engaging, with lyrical fireworks, evocatively rendered landscapes, and unflinching but sensitive portrayals of people, places and the damage done, and Gessner's own distinctive and convincing voice rings out from the center of the action."
MY GREEN MANIFESTO
Milkweed Editions • July 2011
"A wonderfully readable book. Gessner's attempts to define the role of the new environmental warrior, both in terms of idealism and political practicality, are heartfelt and informed. [My Green Manifesto] is brave enough and intelligent enough to embrace technology as well as art, pure ideology as well as compromise, hope as well as despair, depression and paralysis as well as valor and joy." —Rick Bass Boston Globe
"For nature-writing enthusiasts, Gessner needs no introduction. His books and essays have in many ways redefined what it means to write about the natural world, coaxing the genre from a staid, sometimes wonky practice to one that is lively and often raucous."—Washington Post
"Raw and honest . . . there's a lilt in his jig that many will find invigorating."
—Los Angeles Times
"A thought-provoking and at times even entertaining call to arms. Gessner realizes most people will never have the opportunity or the interest to visit the Amazon, witness the melting polar ice caps, or climb Kilimanjaro. So he keeps the ambitions on a much more accessible scale, urging readers to establish a real, pleasurable connection to a local space, its creatures and natural wonder." —Miami Herald
"Funny and inspiring . . . Gessner believes that committing to a lifelong environmental fight is an act of personal fulfillment. [My Green Manifesto] is an easy, pleasurable read, with an environmental message that . . . there is still transcendence to be found in the 'limited wild' of our own communities. So get out there, enjoy it, and fight for it before it's gone because, at least according to Gessner, this is the key to a better life." —Publishers Weekly (STARRED review)
"An engaging book with a serious message." —Kirkus Reviews
"Earthy and funny, frank and pragmatic. Gessner asserts that nature is necessary for our well-being, that 'the most important wilderness is the one closest to home,' and that effective environmentalism is rooted not in theory, renunciation, or gloom, but, rather, in love and wonder, even anger. Take a 'good walk,' he advises, and be willing to fight and hustle for the place you love." — Donna Seaman, Booklist
RETURN OF THE OSPREY
"Gessner's witnessing of an osprey's dive—a wing-folded plunge of 50 feet or more, talons extended at the last moment to spear a fish and carry it to the surface and then aloft—is the obvious high point of his season observing ospreys in Brewster and Dennis and the nearby waters of Cape Cod. But it is the mark of how fine a nature writer Gessner is that his description of the more prosaic activity of nest-building is as perfectly realized as the accounts of the thrilling dives. Return of the Osprey can, on those grounds alone, claim a place among the classics of American nature writing.…A reader could put "Return of the Osprey" aside at this point and feel the satisfaction that comes at the end of a memorable book. But Gessner has only been waiting for his chance for him, and the ospreys, to dazzle. And when it comes, Gessner puts you right there."---The Boston Globe
"This beautifully told story of a season with birds of prey makes for engrossing reading as we learn about osprey life from a master essayist."---Booklist (Boxed starred review)
"It was David Gessner's good fortune to become obsessively interested in ospreys, and it is ours that he writes about them with such clarity, elegance, and passion that this book becomes an instant classic of natural history. It is also a work of great spiritual power...This is a book to read, reread, and remember for a long time."--John S. Major, Senior Editor, Book-of-the-Month Club
"Gessner's Osprey soars with detail and a sense of wonder."--The Miami Herald
"A year well spent and carefully recorded: heedful, respectful and filled with the romance of being out of doors."-- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A naturalist's jewel…Gessner provides insights into the history of the great sea bird of prey that will delight both the committed birder and the general reader."--Publisher's Weekly
""Gessner's Osprey soars with detail and a sense of wonder By the end of the book, you feel as if you've been out there with Gessner much of the time, shivering in the woods, mucking through the marsh, kayaking upriver to an isolated nest site. It's strangely satisfying, imparting a sense of the profound. And you don't even have to venture outdoors to experience it." --The San Diego Union-Tribune
SICK OF NATURE
"Gessner's essays tend to zigzag through the terrain of both wild and human nature, often at the same time and without a compass. But his writing is so sharp-eyed, you don't mind getting lost with him, wherever he ends up. "-- Audubon Magazine
"Comical, energetic, and reverentially irreverent…Gessner's literary voice in this book is something new, something different…in particular he argues for – and then gleefully demonstrates – the enlivening contribution of farce and other modes of narrative in the field of nature writing…more like a gulp of laughing gas than the standard breath of fresh air. Orion Magazine
"With Sick of Nature, David Gessner amply demonstrates that he's a genre eschewing wunderkind, so now he can do anything he likes, but if he throws in plenty of coyotes, turtles, dunes, and woods as he does here so much the better."--Boulder Daily Camera
SOARING WITH FIDEL
"Hunter Thompson gone birding, pen in hand."--Harford Courant
"Gessner's travels are filled with small delights…as he stands on a rock above Cuba's Sierra Maestra, watching ospreys rocket past, we wish we could be up there beside him, binoculars in one hand, a cold beer in the other."--On Earth Magazine
A WILD, RANK PLACE
"A highly readable, disarmingly self-conscious meditation on life and nature, ancestry, and mortality…There are small surprises on every page of this touching, troubling memoir."
The Boston Globe
"Soaring with Fidel is a grand and cheering journey on the wings of one of nature's most sociable predators. It's impossible to watch an osprey hovering above a crystal calm bay and not envy the great bird's freedom. Now, thanks to David Gessner, we are invited to follow."
"Gessner's rollicking road-trip account of 21st Century hawkwatching captures the essence of both migrating ospreys and the mixed bag of people who track them. Equal doses of Jack Kerouac and Roger Tory Peterson promise to enshrine Soaring with Fidel in the pantheon of great travel writing and natural history."
--Keith Bildstein, author of Migrating Raptors of the World
Now in stores and on-line!
—Kate Whouley, author of Cottage for Sale, Must Be Moved
Paper: Ballantine, Spring 2002
“This beautifully written story of a season with birds of prey makes for engrossing reading as we learn about osprey life from a master essayist.”
--Booklist (boxed starred review)
“Gessner’s witnessing of an osprey’s dive—a wing-folded plunge of 50 feet or more, talons extended at the last moment to spear a fish and carry it to the surface and then aloft—is the obvious high point of his season observing ospreys in Brewster and Dennis and the nearby waters of Cape Cod. But it is the mark of how fine a nature writer Gessner is that his descriPtion of the more prosaic activity of nest-building is as perfectly realized as the accounts of the thrilling dives. ‘Return of the Osprey’ can, on those grounds alone, claim a place among the classics of American nature writing.
“…A reader could put “Return of the Osprey” aside at this point and feel the satisfaction that comes at the end of a memorable book. But Gessner has only been waiting for his chance for him, and the ospreys, to dazzle. And when it comes, Gessner puts you right there.”
--The Boston Globe
Despite the title, Sick of Nature is an attempt to instill new life into the nature genre while clearing out the sanctimonious tone that sometimes clouds the air of nature books. The new book ranges far and wide: from ultimate Frisbee to ecotones to coyotes in the suburbs to ospreys (as usual) to my (strong) feelings about trophy homes.
"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."
"There are small surprises on every page of this touching, troubling memoir."
"Gessner's essays are on fire. He shows us that we can have delightful, imaginative and creative lives by becoming more rooted and connected to the place where we are...Wise and enlivening, provoking us into a higher understanding of both nature and ourselves."
"David Gessner writes with a brave, wild gusto that is impossible to ignore. In the face of cancer, environmental devastation and madness, this book is a howl of joy."
"An abundantly life-enhancing book. And a joyous one. In moving between Cape Cod and the Rockies, his expansive energies not only explore his sense of place in East and West. He pores over the 'muchness' of their different natural worlds as they waken his relation to them, and to life itself."