Date of this Version
Published in Great Plains Research 19.2 (Fall 2009): 243-44.
This little book is a nice addition to the Loren Eiseley shelf in my home library. Much has been written about Eiseley’s life, thought, and work, but he still remains little known to the public at large. As authors of essays in this volume testify from various angles, Eiseley’s writings are a rich reservoir of notions and emotions that connect humans to nature, life, and to themselves. The essays were first published in the Fall 1997 issue of Prairie Schooner, the journal in which the 20-year-old Eiseley published his first poem in 1927.
Scott Slovic’s introductory chapter is a thoughtful overview of Eiseley as a nature writer and deserves reading more than once. In the first essay poet Howard Nemerov gives a reminiscence of his “distant friend.” The longest essay (“Eiseley in Lincoln”) by Gale Christianson (author of Fox at the Wood Edge: A Biography of Loren Eiseley, 1990) sheds light on the early influences in Eiseley’s life. Naomi Brill (last essay) continues this theme by emphasizing that Eiseley came from a childhood of suffering and loneliness, but, thanks to his sensitiveness to nature, he came to love the small things that are easily lost from our ordinary view. Eiseley’s longtime secretary Caroline Werkley remarks that Eiseley’s ability to see magic and mystery everywhere would have made him a shaman in ancient tribes as it made him a scientist in our age.