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Nature Noir: A Park Ranger's Patrol in the Sierra

by

Nature Noir: A Park Ranger's Patrol in the Sierra Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Nature Noir is the intensely original story — part Edward Abbey, part James Ellroy — of Jordan Fisher Smith's fourteen years as a park ranger on forty-eight miles of Sierra Nevada river canyons.

The gorgeous government-owned land along the American River that Fisher Smith and his band of fellow rangers have pledged to protect is (think Catch-22) condemned to be inundated by a huge dam. As Smith learns from his first day on patrol, the provisional quality of life here attracts the marginal and the pure crazy. Ranger work, in this place where wildness tends toward the human kind, includes encounters with armed miners who scour canyons for gold, drug-addled squatters, and extreme recreators who enjoy combining motorcycles, parachutes, and high bridges.

Nature Noir reveals some startling truths about park rangering on America's public lands. In one heart-stopping scene, Smith comes across the corpse of a woman runner, killed and partly eaten by a mountain lion — the first Californian to die in that way since the nineteenth century. Elsewhere, the predator on the loose may be human, and Smith goes looking for the bones of a long-missing woman in the surreal landscape around a half-constructed dam slowly reverting to wild.

Review:

"Slated to be drowned by a dam, the California state park patrolled by the author of this haunting memoir is a 'condemned landscape' of gorgeous river canyons hemmed in by exurban sprawl and peopled by eccentric gold miners, squatting families, drug dealers and miscellaneous drunken, gun-waving rowdies, a place where 'turkey vultures floated... savoring the hot air for the inevitable attrition of heat, drought and violence.' In his 14 years there, first-time author Smith encountered fights, beatings, suicides, daredevil canyon divers and the corpse of a woman jogger killed and half eaten by a cougar. His conflicted task of facilitating the communion of humans with the wilderness while keeping the humans civilized and the wild places wild becomes a mission against the 'half-assed and watered-down... gray area' that is the modern world's 'perpetual state of uncertainty.' The clash of nature and civilization is a resonant theme, but it doesn't of itself yield compelling insights, and sometimes the author's essays add up to little more than shaggy-dog stories. But Smith writes with a novelistic sense of character, atmosphere and pacing, in a prose style that's wonderfully evocative of landscape and its effects on people. It will cause readers to both thrill and shudder at the call of the wild. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Eloquently meditative....Smith relishes the physical detail....His voice gains authority through its cadence and understatement." Alan Burdick, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Powerful with its intimate knowledge of place, Nature Noir achieves an even deeper mastery with its affection for the people and human histories of that place. Care and respect for a wild landscape attend to every page of this book." Rick Bass

Review:

"Park rangers have one of the tougher jobs our society has yet devised — they come up against all the varieties of human unhappiness that a city policeman encounters, and they come up against nature in all her moods. Both seem amplified in the canyon of the American River that Jordan Fisher Smith writes about with such calm power. This book will tell you things you didn't know, and in a strong and original voice." Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age

Review:

"Jordan Fisher Smith writes of the present moment as if from some vantage pont in the future. The effect is eerie, and part of what makes Nature Noir so compelling. Smith's is a refreshingly unsentimental kind of truth-telling." Barry Lopez, author of Arctic Dreams and Of Wolves and Men

Review:

"This is a walk in the woods like Thoreau never imagined. I can't make up my mind whether Jordan Fisher Smith is John Muir at the crime scene or Elmore Leonard with a backpack. In any event, this astonishing book, with its brilliant interweaving of murder, irony and natural history, invents a new genre." Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear

Synopsis:

A nature book unlike any other, Jordan Fisher Smith's startling account of fourteen years as a park ranger thoroughly dispels our idealized visions of life in the great outdoors. Instead of scout troops and placid birdwatchers, Smith's beat — a stretch of land that has been officially condemned to be flooded — brings him into contact with drug users tweaked out to the point of violence, obsessed miners, and other dangerous creatures. In unflinchingly honest prose, he reveals the unexpectedly dark underbelly of patrolling and protecting public lands.

Synopsis:

Nature Noir is the story — part Barry Lopez, part James Ellroy — of Jordan Fisher Smith"s fourteen years as a park ranger on a huge tract of government land in the Sierras. As Fisher Smith learns on his first patrol, the wildness in this place tends toward the human kind: desperate miners who scour canyons for gold, bad guys who look like armed rock-and-roll musicians, extreme recreators who enjoy combining motorcycles, parachutes, and high bridges.

This gorgeous land along the American River is destined to be drowned by a huge federal dam, a paradox that colors every day of Fisher Smith"s patrol. The story of life here becomes, among other things, an extraordinary litany of violence and death; dozens of people lost their lives in the canyons of the American River on Fisher Smith"s beat. In one surreal, heart-stopping scene, he comes across the corpse of a woman jogger, killed and partly eaten by a mountain lion — the first Californian to die in that way since the nineteenth century.

Nature Noir illuminates some startling truths about America"s wild lands. And, like Terry Tempest Williams"s Refuge, it feels like the most original new western voice and story to appear for some time.

Synopsis:

Nature Noir is the intensely original story — part Edward Abbey, part James Ellroy — of Jordan Fisher Smith's fourteen years as a park ranger on forty-eight miles of Sierra Nevada river canyons. The gorgeous government-owned land along the American River that Fisher Smith and his band of fellow rangers have pledged to protect is (think Catch-22) condemned to be inundated by a huge dam. As Smith learns from his first day on patrol, the provisional quality of life here attracts the marginal and the pure crazy. Ranger work, in this place where wildness tends toward the human kind, includes encounters with armed miners who scour canyons for gold, drug-addled squatters, and extreme recreators who enjoy combining motorcycles, parachutes, and high bridges. Nature Noir reveals some startling truths about park rangering on America's public lands. In one heart-stopping scene, Smith comes across the corpse of a woman runner, killed and partly eaten by a mountain lion — the first Californian to die in that way since the nineteenth century. Elsewhere, the predator on the loose may be human, and Smith goes looking for the bones of a long-missing woman in the surreal landscape around a half-constructed dam slowly reverting to wild.

About the Author

Jordan Fisher-Smith has worked as a park ranger for fourteen years on forty-eight miles in the Sierra Nevadas.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780618224166
Subtitle:
A Park Ranger's Patrol in the Sierra
Author:
Smith, Jordan Fisher
Author:
Fisher Smith, Jordan
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Location:
Boston
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Officials and employees
Subject:
Mountains
Subject:
Natural history
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Naturalists, Gardeners, Environmentalists
Subject:
Natural history - S
Subject:
Smith, Jordan Fisher
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
February 2005
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.58x5.48x.81 in. .87 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Forests
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General

Nature Noir: A Park Ranger's Patrol in the Sierra Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Houghton Mifflin Company - English 9780618224166 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Slated to be drowned by a dam, the California state park patrolled by the author of this haunting memoir is a 'condemned landscape' of gorgeous river canyons hemmed in by exurban sprawl and peopled by eccentric gold miners, squatting families, drug dealers and miscellaneous drunken, gun-waving rowdies, a place where 'turkey vultures floated... savoring the hot air for the inevitable attrition of heat, drought and violence.' In his 14 years there, first-time author Smith encountered fights, beatings, suicides, daredevil canyon divers and the corpse of a woman jogger killed and half eaten by a cougar. His conflicted task of facilitating the communion of humans with the wilderness while keeping the humans civilized and the wild places wild becomes a mission against the 'half-assed and watered-down... gray area' that is the modern world's 'perpetual state of uncertainty.' The clash of nature and civilization is a resonant theme, but it doesn't of itself yield compelling insights, and sometimes the author's essays add up to little more than shaggy-dog stories. But Smith writes with a novelistic sense of character, atmosphere and pacing, in a prose style that's wonderfully evocative of landscape and its effects on people. It will cause readers to both thrill and shudder at the call of the wild. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Eloquently meditative....Smith relishes the physical detail....His voice gains authority through its cadence and understatement."
"Review" by , "Powerful with its intimate knowledge of place, Nature Noir achieves an even deeper mastery with its affection for the people and human histories of that place. Care and respect for a wild landscape attend to every page of this book."
"Review" by , "Park rangers have one of the tougher jobs our society has yet devised — they come up against all the varieties of human unhappiness that a city policeman encounters, and they come up against nature in all her moods. Both seem amplified in the canyon of the American River that Jordan Fisher Smith writes about with such calm power. This book will tell you things you didn't know, and in a strong and original voice."
"Review" by , "Jordan Fisher Smith writes of the present moment as if from some vantage pont in the future. The effect is eerie, and part of what makes Nature Noir so compelling. Smith's is a refreshingly unsentimental kind of truth-telling."
"Review" by , "This is a walk in the woods like Thoreau never imagined. I can't make up my mind whether Jordan Fisher Smith is John Muir at the crime scene or Elmore Leonard with a backpack. In any event, this astonishing book, with its brilliant interweaving of murder, irony and natural history, invents a new genre."
"Synopsis" by ,
A nature book unlike any other, Jordan Fisher Smith's startling account of fourteen years as a park ranger thoroughly dispels our idealized visions of life in the great outdoors. Instead of scout troops and placid birdwatchers, Smith's beat — a stretch of land that has been officially condemned to be flooded — brings him into contact with drug users tweaked out to the point of violence, obsessed miners, and other dangerous creatures. In unflinchingly honest prose, he reveals the unexpectedly dark underbelly of patrolling and protecting public lands.
"Synopsis" by , Nature Noir is the story — part Barry Lopez, part James Ellroy — of Jordan Fisher Smith"s fourteen years as a park ranger on a huge tract of government land in the Sierras. As Fisher Smith learns on his first patrol, the wildness in this place tends toward the human kind: desperate miners who scour canyons for gold, bad guys who look like armed rock-and-roll musicians, extreme recreators who enjoy combining motorcycles, parachutes, and high bridges.

This gorgeous land along the American River is destined to be drowned by a huge federal dam, a paradox that colors every day of Fisher Smith"s patrol. The story of life here becomes, among other things, an extraordinary litany of violence and death; dozens of people lost their lives in the canyons of the American River on Fisher Smith"s beat. In one surreal, heart-stopping scene, he comes across the corpse of a woman jogger, killed and partly eaten by a mountain lion — the first Californian to die in that way since the nineteenth century.

Nature Noir illuminates some startling truths about America"s wild lands. And, like Terry Tempest Williams"s Refuge, it feels like the most original new western voice and story to appear for some time.

"Synopsis" by ,
Nature Noir is the intensely original story — part Edward Abbey, part James Ellroy — of Jordan Fisher Smith's fourteen years as a park ranger on forty-eight miles of Sierra Nevada river canyons. The gorgeous government-owned land along the American River that Fisher Smith and his band of fellow rangers have pledged to protect is (think Catch-22) condemned to be inundated by a huge dam. As Smith learns from his first day on patrol, the provisional quality of life here attracts the marginal and the pure crazy. Ranger work, in this place where wildness tends toward the human kind, includes encounters with armed miners who scour canyons for gold, drug-addled squatters, and extreme recreators who enjoy combining motorcycles, parachutes, and high bridges. Nature Noir reveals some startling truths about park rangering on America's public lands. In one heart-stopping scene, Smith comes across the corpse of a woman runner, killed and partly eaten by a mountain lion — the first Californian to die in that way since the nineteenth century. Elsewhere, the predator on the loose may be human, and Smith goes looking for the bones of a long-missing woman in the surreal landscape around a half-constructed dam slowly reverting to wild.
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