Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape

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9781595340245: Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape
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Barry Lopez asked 45 poets and writers to define terms that describe America’s land and water forms phrases like flatiron, bayou, monadnock, kiss tank, meander bar, and everglade. The result is a major enterprise comprising over 850 descriptions, 100 line drawings, and 70 quotations from works by Willa Cather, Truman Capote, John Updike, Cormac McCarthy, and others. Carefully researched and exquisitely written by talents such as Barbara Kingsolver, Lan Samantha Chang, Robert Hass, Terry Tempest Williams, Jon Krakauer, Gretel Ehrlich, Luis Alberto Urrea, Antonya Nelson, Charles Frazier, Linda Hogan, and Bill McKibben, Home Ground is a striking composite portrait of the landscape. At the heart of this expansive work is a community of writers in service to their country, emphasizing a language that suggests the vastness and mystery that lie beyond our everyday words.

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About the Author:

Barry Lopez is the author of Arctic Dreams, Of Wolves and Men, Resistance, Light Action in the Caribbean, and eleven other works of fiction and nonfiction. His essays are collected in two books, Crossing Open Ground and About This Life. He contributes regularly to Granta, the Georgia Review, Orion, Outside, the Paris Review, Manoa, and other publications in the United States and abroad. In addition to the National Book Award, he is the recipient of an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim, Lannan, and National Science Foundations. He lives in western Oregon.

Debra Gwartney is the author of the memoir Live Through This, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in February 2009. She teaches creative writing at Portland State University and lives in western Oregon.

Molly O'Halloran is an illustrator and cartographer whose work has appeared in volumes of fiction, travel writing, essays, and archaeological editions. She has lived and worked in Chicago, the Upper Sonoran Desert, the northern Sierra Nevada, and the Great Basin and now calls Austin, TX, home.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. How to define an arroyo, badlands, eddy, a muskeg? What is a desire path, a kiss tank, a nubble? These words, many forgotten today, refer to various aspects of a landscape to which many of us have lost our connection. Drawing on the polyglot richness of American English, National Book Award–winning author Lopez (Arctic Dreams) assembles 45 writers, known for their intimate connection to particular places, to collectively create a unique American dictionary. Barbara Kingsolver, William Kittredge, Arturo Longoria, Jon Krakauer, Bill McKibben, Antonya Nelson, Luis Alberto Urrea and Joy Williams, among others, vividly describe land and water forms. What is a cofferdam? "Imagine a decorative wishing well, then imagine that well writ large," notes Antonya Nelson. And Patricia Hampl tells us that the Dutch word vly (marshy headwaters of a stream) "may have occasioned the name of New York's rowdy Fly Market" in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Many entries quote American explorers and writers such as Herman Melville, Willa Cather, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy, as they uncover layers of etymology and American regional difference. Line drawings enhance geographic understanding; marginal quotations further evoke period and place. This marvelous book enlivens readers to the rich diversity of Americans' complex relationship to the land. (Oct. 4)
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