Wednesday 12 August 2015

Book Review: Nature's Housekeeper An Eco-Comedy by Michael Gurnow

Every so often a book comes along that really is unlike any other. That’s the case with Nature’s Housekeeper by American author Michael Gurnow. The book is the story – the ‘less-than-fictional’ autobiography in the author’s words – of one man’s discovery of nature in the forests of Missouri, and what a difficult, hilarious and accident-prone discovery it is as he progresses from reluctant novice to experienced trail worker and finds that wild places are just that. At its core though this well-written and engaging book is serious and has a deep message. 

I’m impressed with the skill with which the author pulls off the very difficult feat of marrying comedy, wilderness philosophy and practical trail work into one entertaining and informative whole. Packed with humorous incidents, stories and comments the book had me laughing out loud in several places yet at the same time the central tale of how a virulently anti-nature, city-loving college professor overcame his loathing of wild places through reading Thoreau (backed up later by Annie Dillard and Aldo Leopold) and, 1960s style, dropped out of academia to become a trail maintenance worker is moving and intellectually profound. Beyond the comedy there is great depth here and much to ponder. 

This unusual outdoor book is well worth reading. And when you do you’ll find out the truth about the Missouri Tree Snorer. Highly recommended

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