Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘Susan Hand Shetterly’


In Books, Creativity, Literature, Memoir, Writers, Writing on May 2, 2012 at 8:00 am

This is a repost. I’m out of the country. As this piece is “published,” I will have touched down in Kathmandu, day one of twenty-two days away from home. That’s a long time.


November 14, 1851, one-hundred fifty-nine years ago today Moby Dick was published. The Reader’s Almanac, “The official blog of The Library of America“,tells the story of Melville inviting Nathaniel Hawthorn, his reclusive neighbor to a celebratory dinner party as Moby Dick is came off the press. The article quotes a letter from a local Lenox resident:

Not very long ago the author of The Scarlet Letter and the author of Typee having, in some unaccountable way, gotten a mutual desire to see one another, as if neither had a home to which he could invite the other, made arrangements in a very formal manner to dine together at a hotel in this village . . .

If you love reading about the writing life, you will find short article of interest: “The happiest day in Herman Melville’s life.”


The grand lady of American Letters, Joan Didion, has a new book coming out next year, a memoir about aging called Blue Nights. Didion, who almost single-handedly created the genre of literary non-fiction (a bit of an overstatement but close (enough) to true) has been a favorite of mine for many years.


“What Bloggers Owe Montaigne” is a wonderful essay at The Paris Review by Montaigne biographer Sarah Bakewell.

Bloggers might be surprised to hear that they are keeping alive a tradition created more than four centuries ago. Montaigne, in turn, might not have expected to be remembered so long, least of all in the English language—yet he always believed that such understanding between remote eras and cultures was possible. “Each man bears the entire form of the human condition,” he said.

As you might know, from reading my posts here, Montaigne is the writer-thinker-friend I have turned to repeatedly for as long as it matters. As this article demonstrates, Montaigne continues to influence–to this day–as he did centuries ago. There is the hue of immortality to that.

And interestingly, to speak of current and lasting influence, there is this extended essay over at The Nervous Breakdown on all things Montaigne, thanks to Jason Chambers, Johathan Evison, Dennis Haritou and Jason Rice. Their piece is called: When We Fell in Love: Sarah Bakewell.


A bit of Maine. My review of Maine writer, Susan Hand Shetterly‘s book, Settled in the Wild, is now up at Mostly Fiction dot com. As the dusk jack reads: “Like Annie Dillard and Mary Oliver, Susan Hand Shetterly takes a magnifying glass to the wilderness that remains, spending the time few of us take to really look.” I am, admittedly a fan of all things Maine (well, most all things…), but objectively, this is a wonderful little book.


Read On!

Blissful Saturday

In Books, Nature, Philosophy, Reading on October 9, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I’ve been away all week and the only reading I accomplished was on the plane home from BWI, too tired to pay attention. I was just a robot turning pages. So, I determined that today, after the morning visit to the farmer’s market, I would place my backside in my favorite chair and catch up. It’s been three hours, ass planted in chair, and still going strong, but for this quick break. I’m inside of fifty pages to the end of Julian Young’s new biography of Nietzsche.  It has taken me one hell of a long time to get through this book, reminding me of reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. I have an essay about this reading experience at The Nervous Breakdown, called The First Modern: On Nietzsche.

Next up, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Mountain Guide (9th edition). It’s fall in New England and we’re going to take in the foliage. I think we’re heading north, up to Rangeley, and I’m looking for a mountain to climb–a peak with a view.

Along that same line, Worried about getting lost? Then stick with me. Next up in arm chair, Staying Found (3rd edition), The Complete Map and Compass Handbook, from The Mountaineers Books. I became familiar with The Mountaineers Books a few years ago while preparing for a climbing trip to South America. At that time it was recommended that I get, read and study The Freedom of the Hills, the classic text for outdoor studies, now in its 8th edition. I want to sit for the Maine Registered Guide test next year. This, and a few similar texts, is my homework.

Lastly: Settled in the Wild, by Susan Hand Shetterly. I recently exchanged a few emails with an editor from Algonquin Books and wanted to become better acquainted with Algonquin titles. Chris at Longfellow Books suggested the book. I’ve read only a few pages, but have found it exquisite. Shetterly’s voice seems a mix of Annie Dillard and E.B. White, and is infused with the quality of serious chamber music. Stay tuned.

Okay, class, break over. Back to work.