Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Peter Matthiessen (1927-2014)

Despite Peter Matthiessen's prolific output, I have read only two of his books, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse and The Tree Where Man Was Born.  I read Crazy Horse in the late 80's and consider it a necessary counter-narrative to the official story that led to the conviction and imprisonment of Leonard PeltierThe Tree Where Man Was Born was my trail reading between Salisbury, Connecticut  and almost Maine when I hiked the Appalachian Trail.  Reading it was a drawn out affair; only a few pages a night before I expired completely.  Two images from that book have stayed with me ever since.  In describing predators on the Serengetti Matthiessen noted that lions killed and ate prey every few days but the dogs ate every day.  Another scene describes a Scottish researcher standing his ground against a charging  elephant and, amazingly, spooking it enough to turn away.  Both books held my attention and presented information I did not know.

Godspeed, Peter. 

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