Synopses & Reviews
Diane Ackerman, the prizewinning, bestselling author of A Natural History of the Senses
, volunteers every week at a local crisis center, where people call in anonymously, strung out, desperate, imploring, or hostile, holding on to hope through a phone line. Her secret life spent with callers is shocking, funny, stressful, healing, and inspiring. So, too, is her life in her backyard, where the wild creatures she observes so closely are living their own lives on the edge. In her distinctive style (one reviewer calls it a "glorious tumult"), she weaves these parallel threads into a book that is an astonishment.
Using powerful stories of the human spirit set against a backdrop of the natural world she knows so well, Ackerman takes us with her on her travels between those intensely fascinating realms. A Slender Thread is bewitchingly like her previous, widely admired books. As ever, she is sensitive to her surroundings and to other creatures; poetic, passionate, amusing; blessed with a richly furnished mind that makes leaps of imagination and insight; adept at drawing on science, literature, history, psychology, and the immediate moment and yet this book is dramatically different from the rest of her writing. Deeply personal and intimate, it merges her own story with the stories of others, and shares her private struggles and triumphs as well as her joyous immersion in life.
We learn why many hummingbirds die in their sleep, of a distraught caller whose drunken husband is stuck in the chimney singing Irish songs, of animal suicides, of an eighty-five-year-old belly dancer, of a young woman who flees her marriage and spins an elaborate fantasy life in which she captains a team of superheroes who travel the world righting its many wrongs, of the evolution of depression and anxiety as well as of our most cherished emotions, of Winston Churchill's horrifying secret, of the beauty of shade, of the hidden costs of creativity, and hundreds of other truths about being human.
In the course of a year, almost everything dangerous or poignant that can happen to human beings prompts a call to a crisis center from depression, suicide, and murder to all the trials, uncertainties, and conflicts of love. A Slender Thread is a compelling and nakedly autobiographical book, taking us deep into the heart of darkness and light.
"Ackerman leads the reader on a respectful, deeply emotional, life-affirming journey." Publishers Weekly
"Although the book is grounded in fact and experience, its uniqueness lies in its whimsical associations and stimulating insights." Library Journal
"Most readers will come away...with a good deal of respect for Diane Ackerman and her fellow volunteer counselors." New York Times Book Review
his astonishing book by the prizewinning, bestselling author of A Natural History of the Senses reveals Ackerman's parallel lives as an observer of the wildlife in her garden and as a telephone crisis counselor. "(Ackerman) brings a luminous and illuminating combination of sensuality, science, and speculation to whatever she considers."--San Francisco Examiner.
From the Hardcover edition.