Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling Through the Dark

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9780618191383: Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling Through the Dark

Barbara Hurd begins her foray into the increasingly popular pursuit of caving as we all would -- with a panic attack. Nevertheless, as her hunger to understand caves and caving increases, she lures the reader in deeper as well, to the extraordinary fascination of these dark spaces.
Hurd illuminates the natural history and spiritual territory of caves as powerfully as Kathleen Norris portrayed the Dakotas and Barry Lopez the Arctic. She ranges from sacred caves in India to secret caves in Arizona and, with passionately informed prose, makes these places -- with their stalactites and blind cavefish and ancient galleries of white flowstone and soda straws -- come alive. Characters weave in and out of her story as well: a childhood friend dying of cancer, a wildlife biologist who specializes in bat guano, an elderly Indian guide, and the disembodied voice of a fellow caver, never seen, with whom she spends a profoundly illuminating half-hour.
Entering the Stone is both a rich and a compelling natural history of some of the most extraordinary places on earth, as well as a stunning investigation of dark interiors, both terrestrial and human.

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About the Author:

Barbara Hurd teaches at Frostburg State University and in the Stonecoast Program in Creative Writing. She is an editor of the literary annual Nightsun. Her essays and poems have appeared in numerous publications, including the 1999 and 2001 volumes of The Best American Essays, the Yale Review, the Georgia Review, Audubon, and Sierra. She lives in Frostburg, Maryland.

From Booklist:

Using a venerable literary device, Hurd explores her inner life through her fascination with caving. Her meditative, flowing prose pauses on sundry people and events in her life, which she illuminates through descriptions and comparisons with her physical surroundings in the subterranean world. Although they are the settings for her musings on vulnerability, solitude, or death, caves also scare Hurd: she opens with an account of a panic attack she once experienced while descending into one. She faced her fear and got right back to spelunking. She also gives rein to thoughts about her deceased father and faces up to the fact that one of her oldest friends is dying. Confessing to a natural reserve, Hurd explains that caves allow her to give in to emotional exuberance: in the dimness fading to darkness, she becomes an intimate perceiver of sound and shape and of the quietude of danger that caves present. Always, Hurd considers why caves draw her in, and though markedly digressive and personal, her essay reveals a questing spirit that will intrigue similarly contemplative readers. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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