Synopses & Reviews
From Thoreau to Edward Abbey to Annie Dillard, American writers have looked at nature and described the sublime and transcendent. Now comes Akiko Busch, who finds multitudes of meaning in the practice of swimming across rivers. The notion that rivers divide us is old and venerated, but they also limn our identities and mark the passage of time; they anchor communities and connect one to another. And, in the hands of writer and swimmer Akiko Busch, they are living archives of human behavior and natural changes.
After a transformative swim across the Hudson just before September 11, Busch undertook to explore eight of America's great waterways: the Hudson (twice), the Delaware, the Connecticut, the Susquehanna, the Monongahela, the Mississippi, the Ohio, and the Current. She observes each river's goings-on and reflects on its history (human and natural) and possible futures. Some of the rivers have rebounded from past industrial misuse; others still struggle with pollution and waste. The swims are also opportunities to muse on the ordinary passages faced by most of us--the death of a parent, raising children, becoming older--and the ways in which the rhythms and patterns of the natural world can offer reassurance, ballast and inspiration. A deeply moving exploration of the themes of renewal and reclamation at midlife, Nine Ways to Cross a River is a book to be treasured and given to friends.
"Heraclitus famously noted that you can't step into the same river twice, and Hudson Valley author Busch (Geography of Home) reaches this literal truth by swimming across nine different rivers many once polluted beyond recognition in order to 'reclaim' them for personal and communal renewal. An avid swimmer, Busch resolved to swim across these rivers (with friends, in summer and during benevolent weather conditions) over the course of four years, despite repeated local admonitions not to go in the water: from the upper Hudson, where she resides, to the Delaware, Connecticut, Susquehanna, Monongahela, Cheat, Mississippi, Ohio and Current Rivers. Along the way she shares delightful lore about these important waterways, insinuating aspects of each river's particular history and beauty, such as that the Hudson was called 'the river that flows two ways' by the local Algonquin; the Susquehanna is listed as the most polluted river; the Mississippi is the longest and most changing; while the Current in Missouri is the clearest. Busch enlists reflections from environmentalists and nature writers such as Edward Abbey and Thoreau, and taps into local organizations (e.g., Pete Seeger's) that claim that swimming in a river leads to a sense of stewardship. Busch's journey across these rivers becomes an elegant metaphor for life. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Akiko Busch is the author of Geography of Home. She writes regularly about design and culture, and lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband and two sons.