An Englewood Review of Books best book of 2012
In the hands of award-winning writer Scott Russell Sanders, the essay becomes an inquisitive and revelatory form of art. In 30 of his finest essays—nine never before collected—Sanders examines his Midwestern background, his father's drinking, his opposition to war, his literary inheritance, and his feeling for wildness. He also tackles such vital issues as the disruption of Earth's climate, the impact of technology, the mystique of money, the ideology of consumerism, and the meaning of sustainability. Throughout, he asks perennial questions: What is a good life? How do family and culture shape a person's character? How should we treat one another and the Earth? What is our role in the cosmos? Readers and writers alike will find wisdom and inspiration in Sanders's luminous and thought-provoking prose.
|"Like the building stones of his beloved limestone country, Scott Russell Sanders’s enduring essays are beautifully carved from the material of the Earth and its layered lives. The reach of Sanders’s incandescent mind will remind readers of Ralph Waldo Emerson. The fierce eloquence of his defense of what is right will remind them of Thoreau. The warmth of his open heart is signature Scott Russell Sanders. This collection of Sanders’s finest work will become a classic of American thought." —Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature
"The many things that Scott Russell Sanders cares aboutsocial justice, family, our place in nature, the ways in which culture and place reflect one anotherare all woven together wonderfully in this collection of essays. Here is a voice to dispel confusion and keep us well rooted." —Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift and Common as Air
"More than any other writer of his generation, Scott Russell Sanders has consistently, and insistently, asked his readers to consider what it means to be a citizen of the Earth." —H. Emerson Blake, Orion
"Collectively, these essays invite the reader to gaze more clearly at the world outside his own window—a reminder, as Sanders puts it, that all there is to see 'can be seen from anywhere in the universe, if you know how to look . . . '" —Barnes & Noble Review
"In language that's patient, probing and precise, Sanders . . . has, over the past 30 years or so, built a body of work articulating what it means to live during this time on planet Earth and, particularly, that part of the planet called the American Midwest." —NUVO
"By turns somber and snap-out-of-it buoyant, these elegant artifacts of restless inquiry cover subjects as intimate as the author's sexual awakening and his father's alcoholism, as broad as the origins of the universe and the disarray of contemporary hyper-urban society." —The Indianapolis Star
"[T]he essays of Earth Works are full of energy, hope and life." —Englewood Review of Books
"Nature, in all of its manifestations—physical, spiritual, geographical—runs through everything that Sanders writes and supplies the materials for much of his vivid and compelling imagery, as well as his inpiration and concern." —Bloom
"It's hard to think of a writer today who is better at finding and expressing the profound nature discovered in such simple gifts as a shared meal or a walk in the woods." —indianalivinggreen.com
"[The essays in Earth Works are . . . a rich mix of beautifully crafted and progressive pieces that engage the reader in a long conversation. They are best read slowly, providing time to consider Sanders’ propositions, his keen insight and lessons, his critical questioning." —Terrain.org
"Among the thirty essays it contains, Earth Works offers a thought-provoking mix of old and new. The nine new pieces included in the back of Earth Works . . . are themselves worth the sticker price." —The Fourth River
"An "Englewood Review of Books" best book of 2012
Author Scott Russell Sanders is the national winner of the 2010 Indiana Authors Award" —
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|by Laura Baich
||Date Added: Wednesday 28 March, 2012
|Staff pick for April 2012
(review originally posted on the IU Press blog)
Reviewed by IU Press electronic marketing manager, Laura Baich
Have you ever connected with an author's writing so much that you wished you could become friends in real life? That's the way I feel about Scott Russell Sanders. Earth Works, his latest collection of essays, is the third book I've read by him, and I'm sure it will not be the last.
The book begins with an essay on essays. Sanders calls this kind of writing "a brash and foolhardy form...which relies on the tricks of anecdote, conjecture, memory, and wit to enthrall us." And enthrall us is exactly what Sanders does as a master craftsman of the essay.
Sanders covers a variety of topics In the book's 30 essays, including his Midwestern background, his father's drinking, his opposition to war, the ideology of consumerism, and our connection to each other and the Earth. But the common thread woven throughout all the essays is Sanders' contemplation of life--not only his, but all life on the Earth--and what it means to be part of the world.
And this is why I keep returning to Sanders. Because, as he writes in the preface, the sources of many of his essays are questions that "must occur to every inquisitive soul." He eloquently examines thoughts I've had about living a good life, our role in the universe, and our connection to anything eternal. Sanders says that the answers he "come[s] up with are always partial and tentative, subject to rethinking in light of new knowledge or further reflection." But for me, the pleasure in reading the essays comes not so much from discovering his answer to a perennial question of life, but more from learning about the journey he took to get there.
So why else should you read Scott Russell Sanders? The members of the "What Would Scott Russell Sanders Do?" Facebook group sum it up best:
"If ever in need of life guidance, consider: WWSRSD? The man, the myth, the legend... Scott Sanders dispenses wisdom like it's his job--OH WAIT, IT IS."..
Rating: [5 of 5 Stars]
Table of Contents
The Singular First Person
At Play in the Paradise of Bombs
The Men We Carry in Our Minds
Doing Time in the Thirteenth Chair
The Inheritance of Tools
Under the Influence
Looking at Women
Reasons of the Body
After the Flood
House and Home
Letter to a Reader
The Common Life
The Force of Spirit
The Uses of Muscle
A Private History of Awe
A Road into Chaos and Old Night
Words Addressed to Our Condition Exactly
Honoring the Ordinary
Speaking for the Land
The Mystique of Money
Mind in the Forest
Notes and Acknowledgements