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Brush Cat: On Trees, the Wood Economy, and the Most Dangerous Job in Americaby Jack Mcenany
Synopses & Reviews
Advance Praise for Brush Cat
“Jack McEnany is one of the few American authors brave enough to live what he writes. He does it with style, humor, and an unmatched ability to put the reader exactly in the right place at the right time. Brush Cat teems with life, a masterful union of literary form and function, a definitive and vivid account of logging in the Great Northern Forest. I found in Brush Cat more truth about this dangerous and unheralded job than a thousand pages of official history. Do yourself a favor, read it!”—James Mathews, author of Last Known Position
“Brush Cat takes Michael Pollans investigative approach and melds it with Anthony Bourdains streetwise sense of humor, to give us a poignant account not of food, but of trees and the few brave men who still work them—and how wood matters more than ever in modern America.”—Peter Wilkinson, Rolling Stone
“Jack McEnany is the kind of writer who can get to know anybody over a beer, and in Brush Cat he paints an unforgettable picture of that archetypal American figure, the logger. Neither Paul Bunyanesque heroes nor spotted-owl-killing eco-villains, McEnanys characters are complicated souls, deeply attuned to the woods in which they do their dangerous job. And after reading Brush Cat, Im going to leave the chainsawing to them.”—Bill Gifford, author of Ledyard: In Search of the First American Explorer and editor at large, Mens Journal
"McEnany (coauthor of Bode) offers a spirited account of life among the burly, hard-living men who log New England's timberlands that's part self-deprecating memoir (he's a self-admitted klutz around chainsaws) and part serious study of both the ubiquity of wood in contemporary America and the future of domestic logging in the Atlantic Northeast. The good news is that the eastern forests continue to be a valuable renewable resource when logged with sustainability in mind, reports the author. The bad news: sprawling development, increasingly onerous governmental regulations, climate change and the consequent truncated logging season are all gnawing at the loggers' precarious livelihood. Unlike the forests of the West, where mechanized logging is the norm and huge swaths of forests are clear-cut indiscriminately, New England woodlots are almost all privately owned land of 25 acres or less, and logging is done by the 'Brush Cats' — independent, self-sufficient woodsmen, who are said to have the most dangerous job in America and are profiled with a mix of comic hyperbole, measured awe and deep affection in this loquacious study." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Brush Cat" recounts a year in the life of men who perform one of the most dangerous jobs in America--logging New England's vast forests for timber used in hundreds more ways than most realize.
A Year in the Woods
Brush Cat recounts a year in the life of men who perform one of the most dangerous jobs in America—logging New Englands vast forests for timber used in hundreds more ways than most of us realize, from houses to furniture to paper to electricity. In the spirit of John McPhee and Tracy Kidder, we meet an unforgettable cast of characters; feel their pain and exultation, and come to realize the centrality of wood in all of our lives.
While they are first and foremost loggers cutting down trees, they are also ardent and effective conservationists who depend on healthy, intact forests for their long-term survival. True, some loggers are wood pirates, but most are pragmatic environmentalists, always asking the question: How do we keep this crop alive and thriving forever?
The narrative moves deftly from useful tips on how not to lose body parts to a chain saw, through the terror of huge trees that fall the wrong way, to inconsistent and wrong-headed government forest management. It explores the worldwide demand for wood and wood chips, as well as the effect of climate change on the forest, and traces the money that keeps it all moving. Brush Cat clears the branches to reveal a hidden and fascinating world.
About the Author
Jack McEnany has lived among loggers in New Hampshire for more than twenty years. He is the co-author of Bode: Go Fast, Be Good, Have Fun, the autobiography of skier Bode Miller.
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