As summer arrives with scorching temperatures, a profound drought with no end in sight, and the all-too-real threat of devastating wildfires, award-winning nature writer David Gessner’s newest book on the way we live now will resonate with Westerners wondering what comes next.
Gessner's account of his road trip through the West of his youth is simultaneously a lively travel journal and a meditation on the life and times of Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner, whose divergent paths brought them to the same conclusion: we are loving the West to death. The tide of humanity that has swept west of the 100th Meridian may believe itself transformed by the region's grandeur, but it's actually the fragile, arid landscape that's been transformed--irrevocably, and not for the better.
As he follows the trails blazed by the West's two most iconic writers, examining their lives, visiting landmarks and seeking insights from friends and families against the backdrop of the hottest summer on record, Gessner observes that the reality of the wild that remains as Stegner and Abbey understood it is immutable: coring out the land with mines and fracking, treating water as if it were an infinite resource, and generally behaving as if the West is simply an extension of the soggy East is a recipe for disaster on the grandest of scales.
Gessner is a compelling writer, and as a student two of the West's most iconic authors, is an eloquent voice speaking truth to power.