Book Review: The Carry Home

Aug 5, 2016

This is KLCC.  I’m Connie Bennett, Director of Eugene Public Library, with a book review of "The Carry Home” by Gary Ferguson.

It’s a common – almost mythic – theme: after loss, we seek solace and healing in nature.  And given that loss is so much a part our common human experience, it’s a story that’s been lived – and written –countless times before.  Despite this, there’s nothing common about Gary Ferguson’s “The Carry Home: Lessons from the American Wilderness.”   It’s almost as though Ferguson’s entire life was preparing him to write this particular book.    Nature writer Gary Ferguson has been around for a quarter of a century, with a solid body of writing about hawks, wolves, and wild places for publications ranging from Vanity Fair to The Los Angeles Times.   Plus, twenty-three books, including one for young people retelling nature myths from world cultures.  Lots of hiking, canoeing, exploring wild places.  Years of frustration with his own baby-boomer generation’s failures to face the challenges of climate change.  And, twenty-five years of marriage to his well-matched friend and partner, Jane.  In this exquisitely written memoir, Ferguson shares the blow-by-blow details of the adrenaline-filled canoeing accident that takes Jane’s life.   He tells of the series of five journeys to scatter Jane’s ashes in beloved wild locations.  But the burden of the story is with his own transcendent journey through grief.  At first the harshness of the environmentalist rants and family violence in their backgrounds jarred me.  As I read on, I wondered if what was missing was Jane’s voice – then I realized, maybe that was the point.  And finally, I just immersed myself in Ferguson’s writing – lyrical, filled with love – and traveled, along with him, to the grace of resolution.   

This is KLCC.  I’m Connie Bennett, reviewing "The Carry Home” by Gary Ferguson.