Saturday, March 13, 2010

What is Christopher Norment reading?

This weekend's featured contributor to Writers Read: Christopher Norment, author of Return to Warden's Grove: Science, Desire, and the Lives of Sparrows.

His entry begins:
I’ve just finished American Rust, by Phillipp Meyer, which is one of the best novels I’ve read in the last year. It’s a powerful story about moral choices, and human determination to persist in the face of failure and despair. American Rust is set in the coal and manufacturing country of southwestern Pennsylvania, a once-prosperous region facing desperate economic times. Meyer does a wonderful job of describing the decaying towns of the Monongahela Valley, and the contrasting beauty of a natural landscape exploding into spring. What he’s best at, though, is giving voice to the emotions and experiences of a diverse range of characters, from two twenty-year-old men, to a middle-aged mother, and the local chief of police. Meyer uses a stream of consciousness style to depict how the minds of his main characters work, and he captures the haphazard, disjointed, and ambivalent essence of this process. American Rust is great fiction because it...[read on]
Christopher Norment is a professor of environmental science and biology at SUNY College at Brockport, where he specializes in the breeding biology and ecology of migratory birds.

In addition to numerous scientific articles, he is the author of In the North of Our Lives and Return to Warden's Grove: Science, Desire, and the Lives of Sparrows.

Among the praise for Return to Warden's Grove:
“[T]his book is a joy--an adventure story, incredibly lyrical writing about the far North, a commentary on how we live our lives and what most of us must give up in order to live conventionally. It is a dream song, a love poem, a meditation on life--and I feel it ranks among the best nature writing I have ever read--from Thoreau to Muir to Matthiesson. You will be entranced.”
Jerald Winakur, author of Memory Lessons: A Doctor's Story

“Norment’s cabin, like Thoreau’s, opens into the widest prospects of hearts and minds. Return to Warden’s Grove is a story of fortitude, love of truth, and a wandering, wondering heart. The picture appears gradually, humbly, in the repeated daily acts of minute observational and intellectual honesty from which science is built. He is willing to feel and question everything. What good is science? How much of science secretly draws from intuition, heart, and that mysterious connectedness to the natural world that no one can explain, or explain away? And how can a person really be at home anywhere? I don’t know of another work that better engages these foundational questions.”
David Oates, essayist and poet
Visit Chris Norment's faculty webpage where you will find links to excerpts and reviews of his books.

Writers Read: Christopher Norment.

--Marshal Zeringue