August 20, 2006

'There are no innocent victims in this place'

The bitter pill of environmental history goes down much more easily if you mix in meth dealers, tree thieves, feral gold prospectors, and suicial bridge-jumpers.

Nature Noir, Jordon Fisher Smith's memoir of days as a California state parks ranger, led one reviewer to state, "I can't make up my mind whether Jordan Fisher Smith is John Muir at the crime scene or Elmore Leonard with a backpack."

Can Smith write "noir"? Try this:

She was stoop-shouldered woman in her late thirties who looked like this [automobile] crash wasn't the first bad thing that had happened to her. Her clothing was asexual--old jeans and a lumpy brown blouse. She wore no makeup. Her face was weathered and plain, and bore an expression of blank-faced sadness you see in women whose main talent in life is getting mixed up with the wrong men.

Another excerpt here.

Definately a good read, and you come away knowing more about California parks history, the social history of map-making, what happens when dams are rushed to completion, and Lyme disease.


Steve Bodio said...

The cougar chapter is brilliant and harrowing-- I'm surprised you didn't mention it.

I'll get you to write up your experiences yet...

Chas S. Clifton said...

That was a fine chapter. When it came time to choose a chapter to discuss in my next nature-writing class, I hesitated between it and the one about the young Laotian. I ended up picking the second for its more poetic texture.