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In Wild Delicate Seconds, Charles Finn captures twenty-nine chance encounters with the everyday—and not so everyday—animals, birds, and insects of North America.
There are no maulings or fantastic escapes in Finn's narratives—only stillness and attentiveness to beauty. With profundity, humor, and compassion, Finn pays homage to the creatures we share our world with —from black bears to bumble bees, mountain lions to muskrats—and, in doing so, touches on what it means to be human.
CHARLES FINN is editor of High Desert Journal. His writing is published in more than fifty newspapers, journals, magazines, and anthologies, including The Sun, Open Spaces, Northern Lights, Big Sky Journal, and High Country News. He taught English as a foreign language in Hiroshima, Japan; hid out in the woods of British Columbia; and learned the art of deconstruction in Potomac, Montana. Originally from Vermont and a recent resident of Bend, Oregon, he now lives in New Jersey.
"Wild Delicate Seconds
is an exquisite read, full of small surprises with big heartbeats. Finn’s stories are warbler-sized. They cut through the air of the mind like flames."— Gretel Ehrlich, author of The Solace of Open Spaces
and The Future of Ice
"I don’t know when I have felt more captive to a suite of animal associations than I do in reading Wild Delicate Seconds. I think of Ernest Thompson Seton, both Adolf and Olaus Murie, and all of the Craigheads, written with the elegant concision of Penelope Fitzgerald and the wild whimsy of Tom Robbins. But this is Charles Finn, all by himself, except for the company of 29 memorable creatures—all the more memorable for his gem-like accounts of intimate meetings in the wild. Finn’s mastery of simile, his deep, deep attention to others around him, and his humility in the presence of his evolutionary peers make this a fine book, one I shall read over and over, give away again and again, and return to wπhen I am lonely." — Robert Michael Pyle, author of Mariposa Road and The Thunder Tree
"These brief meditations are as beautiful for what they don’t say as for what they do. Charles Finn does not pad, overreach, or over-emote. His precision accounts of wildlife encounters summon awe, wonder, and magnificence when those feelings are authentically present, but just as readily summon comedy if the encounter was, as Edward Hoagland once put it, 'like meeting a fantastically dressed mute on the road.' These are not fleeting glances: they are full-on full-bodied face-to-face invocations of the way animals and birds 'speak out by saying precisely nothing,' uncannily propelling us into 'the exact place where the world begins.'"? — David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and My Story as Told by Water
"In the space of these twenty-nine encounters, Charles Finn invites his readers into a landscape of 'uncountable geometries, great silences,' a primordial terrain in which 'hunger is the beginning of everything.' Here, a crane’s flight is 'the old machinery of the world lifting into the sky.' Here, we experience moments so stunning 'there is no restarting the heart.' Finn gives us the quality of intense seeing that transcends into insight, seeing that transforms into vision. In the encounter with ravens, he reminds us of what poets tell us: 'Everything… shouts one thing, and one thing only, "Pay attention!"' And Charles Finn does. Indeed, he does. His words pay a rapt and rapturous attention." — Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate
"When I know the name of a creature, Thoreau said, I find it difficult to see. Charles Finn has escaped that disability, and done magic: to summon the moment of encounter with a wild creature without killing that drama with too much mind. The feral moments in this book are deft, alive with exact detail, full, and short. This is a field guide to a different kind of outside, where the wise, wide-eyed child of the self meets ouzel, turtle, fox, and owl. We need more big short books like this one—after reading Finn, you will wander alert, humbled, wise." — Kim Stafford, author of The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craft
"Wild Delicate Seconds is invaluable. Straightforwardly and precisely articulated, it reinforces our sense that we live next door to mysteries while inhabiting profound complexities, and that we should spend time thanking our lucky stars —and Charles Finn."— William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky