Falling into Place
An Intimate Geography of Home
By Catherine Reid
(Beacon Press, Hardcover, 9780807009925, 184pp.)
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
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Quietly powerful essays, weaving keenly observed insights into the mysteries of nature with those of family and community
“It’s not easy,” Catherine Reid writes, “to love a person and a place in equal measure.” Love she does, however, as described in these intimate, lyric essays about the land and people around her. With the inside perspective of a native New Englander combined with her outsider status as a lesbian, Reid explores such paradoxes as those that arise from harnessing wild rivers or legalizing same-sex marriage. Her fascination with natural phenomena—whether bird hibernation, the arrival of fishers in suburbia, or the explosion of amphibious life in the wet weeks of spring—is captured in writing that pays as much attention to the sounds of a sentence as to the rhythms of the landscapes she wanders.
Ultimately, Reid finds herself having to choose between her farmhouse near the Berkshires and a job in the South, between her known role in the land’s stories and a new story yet to be written. Solace comes from companions as varied as a praying mantis, an otter, and her hundred-year-old grandmother, while resilience shows up in the stories of streams recovering from toxic spills and in communities weathering floods and town meetings. Reid celebrates the joyous engagement that comes with developing a deep connection with the places we call home and the life—human, animal, botanical—that surrounds us. At the same time, she offers keen insights into the way nature ultimately remains mysterious, beyond our knowing.
Sensuous and provocative, Falling into Place faces the beauty and challenges of our changing world head-on.
Catherine Reid directs the undergraduate creative writing program at Warren Wilson College, where she teaches courses in creative nonfiction and environmental writing. She is the author of Coyote: Seeking the Hunter in Our Midst and of essays that have appeared in such journals as the Georgia Review, Fourth Genre, Bellevue Literary Review, and Massachusetts Review. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina.
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“Sharply observed and deeply pondered.”
“This book will be savored by those who relish reading beautifully written essays about natural history and environmental concerns, as well as by readers who enjoy memoirs.”
“Brings a fresh voice to time-honored subjects: the death of a loved one, the search for oneself.”
“Falling into Place shows a successful quest for elusive, hard-won goals, on natural territory.”
—The Gay & Lesbian Review
“The perfect example of how the personal becomes global through familiar tropes.”
“Listening for birds or following the riddle of a bear roaming the woods in winter; remembering a near drowning and the trace of her stranger-savior in spare asides; pursuing the nature of the 'natural' or calling us to meet her in wonder and in activism, author-naturalist Catherine Reid writes with an uncommonly enthralling acuity and grace. A major contribution to the re-vitalization of the essay and lyric nonfiction short form, Falling into Place creates groves of contemplation in a reactive world. Gerard Manley Hopkins. Rachel Carson. Catherine Reid. Like the precursors whose soundings gorgeously echo in her work, Falling into Place invites a new kind of listening.”
—Mary Cappello, author of Called Back, and Swallow
“In these beautifully written essays Catherine Reid combines her homing instincts with an astute awareness of the ramifications of global events. As she explores the way in which the local, in our time, must also be far-ranging, she also considers the inextricable links between the human and natural worlds. Falling Into Place is a deeply rewarding book marked by maturity of thought and lyric richness.”
—Jane Brox, author of Clearing Land: Legacies of the American Farm