Self-Portrait with Turtles
By David M. Carroll
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618162253, 192pp.)
Publication Date: March 2004
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Self-Portrait with Turtles is a book in the spirit of Walden and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, but it is also unique, as David Carroll himself is. Driven by a passion for art and turtles, Carroll has lived a Walden-like life for decades, although he is married, with family. In Self -Portrait he tells the story of that remarkable life. He writes about his early encounters with turtles, which led to a lifelong fascination with them and their swampy habitats, and about the high school teacher who told him that, contrary to everything he had been taught before, art is the only thing that matters, the only thing that lasts. During his years at art school in Boston, he got to know the turtles of the Fenway, including one giant snapper he wrestled to shore and carried to his studio for a portrait session. After a brief career as a teacher, Carroll has spent decades scraping out a living as an artist and naturalist, raising three children on a shoestring with his artist wife. "We live like turtles," he has said; "we hunker down when times get hard." In a materialistic age, he and his family have gone their own way, living simply and self-sufficiently, showing that the secret of a good life is to devote yourself to what you love.
DAVID M. CARROLL is the author of The Year of the Turtle, Trout Reflections, Self-Portrait with Turtles, and Swampwalker's Journal, which won the prestigious John Burroughs Medal. In 2006 he won a MacArthur "genius" award for his work as a writer, artist, and naturalist. Carroll has been featured on Today (where he reached down into swampy water, miraculously pulled up a turtle he knew, and told her history), in numerous newspapers and magazines, and in the most popular documentary in the history of New Hampshire public television. He is an active lecturer and consultant to conservation institutions throughout New England.