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About Philip Connors
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“Fire Season both evokes and honors the great hermit celebrants of nature, from Dillard to Kerouac to Thoreau—and I loved it.”
—J.R. Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar
“[Connors’s] adventures in radical solitude make for profoundly absorbing, restorative reading.”
—Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air
Phillip Connors is a major new voice in American nonfiction, and his remarkable debut, Fire Season, is destined to become a modern classic. An absorbing chronicle of the days and nights of one of the last fire lookouts in the American West, Fire Season is a marvel of a book, as rugged and soulful as Matthew Crawford’s bestselling Shop Class as Soulcraft, and it immediately places Connors in the august company of Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, Aldo Leopold, Barry Lopez, and others in the respected fraternity of hard-boiled nature writers.
In his debut Fire Season, Philip Connors recounted with lyricism, wisdom, and grace his decade as a fire lookout high above remote New Mexico. Now he tells the story of what made solitude on the mountain so attractive: the years he spent reeling in the wake of a family tragedy.
At the age of twenty-three, Connors was a young man on the make. He'd left behind the Midwestern farm on which he'd grown up and the brother with whom he'd never been especially close. He had a magazine job lined up in New York City and a future unfolding exactly as he'd hoped. Then one phone call out of the blue changed everything.
All the Wrong Places is a brutally honest account of the aftermath of his brother's shocking suicide, exploring both the pathos and the unlikely humor of a life unmoored by loss.
Beginning with the otherworldly beauty of a hot-air-balloon ride over the skies of Albuquerque and ending in the wilderness of the American borderlands, this is the story of a man paying tribute to the dead by unconsciously willing himself into all the wrong places, whether at the copy desk of the Wall Street Journal, the gritty streets of Bed-Stuy in the 1990s, or the smoking rubble of the World Trade Center. With ruthless clarity and a keen sense of the absurd, Connors slowly unmasks the truth about his brother and himself, to devastating effect. Like Cheryl Strayed's Wild, this is a powerful look back at wayward years--and a redemptive story about finding one's rightful home in the world.
* One of Publishers Weekly's Best Nonfiction Books of the Year
* An NPR Summer Reading List Pick
* A Southwest Book of the Year Award Winner
From one of the last working fire lookouts comes this sequel to the award-winning Fire Season--a story of calamity and resilience in the world's first wilderness.
A dozen years into his dream job keeping watch over the Gila National Forest of New Mexico, Philip Connors bore witness to the blaze he had always feared: a megafire that forced him off his mountain by helicopter and forever changed the forest and watershed he loved. It was one of many transformations that arrived in quick succession, not just fire and flood, but the death of a fellow lookout in a freak accident and atragic plane crash that rocked the community he called home.
Beginning as an elegy for a friend he cherished like a brother, A Song for the River opens into a chorus of voices singing in celebration of a landscape redolent with meaning--and the river that runs through it, whose waters are threatened by a potential dam.
The ways of water and the ways of fire, the lines tragedy carves on a life, the persistent renewal of green shoots sprouting from ash: these are the subjects of A Song for the River. Its argument on behalf of things wild and free could not be more timely; the goal is nothing less than permanent protection for that rarest of things in the American West, a free-flowing river--the sinuous and gorgeous Gila.
It must not perish.