Thursday, February 13, 2020

Book notes: Listening to the Savage: River Notes and Half-hear Melodies by Barbara Hurd

Hurd, Barbara. Listening to the Savage: River Notes and Half-heard Melodies. Athens: University of Georgia Press. 2016.

“There is scarcely anyone writing better about the natural world than Barbara Hurd,” says Alan Cheuse of NPR. Hurd, a writing professor at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, writes here about the Savage, a river that she knows and explores, but also about music and sound and how we hear and what this tells us about ourselves and our world.

Her granddaughter says, “I used to think adults were smart,” and reading this suggests we need to get a lot smarter, not just about the world around us but about ourselves. Hurd explores everything from narcissism to Bach and entices the reader to see herself in a new and humbling way.

            This book was truly inspirational. Like Rod Saner, she is smart and succinct, making connections with herself and her world in clear and whacky ways. I loved how she brought her granddaughter into the discussions with the wisdom of a five-year old teaching us how to think more clearly about ourselves, our world. I loved the connections Hurd made, the way she thought through her writing, building steps and bridges and connections. Brilliant book. Brilliant writer.

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