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Scott Russell Sanders, Himself

September 30, 2010 by Reader's Connection

We featured an interview with Scott Russell Sanders, winner of the 2010 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana National Author Award, at the beginning of September. He was speaking for the most part about the award, though, and I need to do a post on the author himself. So here are a few of his books, and if you haven´t already read it, Dan Carpenter had a nice column about Sanders on Sunday.

The Awards Dinner will take place on Saturday, October 9th. For info about the finalists in the Regional and Emerging Authors categories, visit the Indiana Authors Awards website.

A Conservationist Manifesto (2009)

A Conservationist Manifesto

Sanders muses on how to care for the Earth, local communities and future generations. He condemns the mainstream “American way of life” as an “infantile dream of endless consumption, endless novelty, and endless play” and, calling for a “dream worthy of grownups,” explores ways to realize this dream, such as his own decision to stay put in one place and discover that his ambition was not to “make a good career but to make a good life” and remain attentive to nature and the present moment. Sanders offers a 40-point “Conservationist Manifesto,” which, in its thoroughness, thoughtfulness and inclusion of environmental justice issues would serve the environmentalist community well. But the most original and intriguing ideas in this book are Sanders’s thoughts about words and their meanings, as when he suggests that for a season we make explicit the meaning of “consumers” by replacing it with “devourers,” or that wilderness is a Sabbath of space rather than time, and we need both kinds of Sabbath “because Earth could use a respite from our demands.” — Publishers Weekly  


A Private History of Awe (2006)

A Private History of Awe

A graceful memoir of a Midwestern life . . . We learn about the struggles of his alcoholic father and the frustrations of his mother. We learn about books the author read, his sexual awakening, his astonishing love affair with his wife, Ruth. They met at a summer high-school science camp, wrote passionately to each other for five years (their correspondence comprised thousands of letters), then married shortly before sailing to England. In Cambridge, he became active in the anti-Vietnam War movement; he writes affectingly about the murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. He writes well, too, about suffering and disappointment and despair. His young wife had a lumpectomy in London (benign) and suffered a miscarriage . . .Sanders writes candidly about how Christianity bore him along for a while, then left him. But at its core this is a love story. Sanders responds with awe to the forces of nature (his text begins and ends with a thunderstorm), and he believes that love is how humans connect to them. Permeating all is the author’s love for the natural world, and, even more intimately, for his parents, his wife, his children, his granddaughter. An eloquent exploration of life and love by a writer with a most inquiring mind and capacious heart. — Kirkus Reviews  


The Force of Spirit (2000)

The Force of Spirit

 “I have reached the time in life when I can no longer put off asking the ultimate questions,” writes Sanders. In 14 essays, the award-winning author takes up such topics as the death of parents and marriage of children, the valuable lessons of the natural world, and the sacredness of good work and good writing. He visits a Kansas farmer who is trying to revolutionize farming, moving it from a chemical- and oil-dependent monoculture to a perennial polyculture that preserves the earth. He also visits a Quaker service: “The louder [the] human racket becomes, the more I value those who are willing, like the Buddhists and Benedictines and Quakers, to brave the silence.” Like Thomas Merton, he has found that “the whole mechanism of modern life is geared for a flight from God.” As might be expected from Sanders, these selections are articulate and penetrating, constituting his own explorations for answers and meaning. — Library Journal  


Hunting for Hope: A Father’s Journeys (1998)

Hunting for Hope: A Father's Journeys

A small, bright arrowhead of a book: carefully hewn, piercing, balanced; betraying in its form its very substance. Veteran writer Sanders wanted to find a way to tell his children that despite ecological degradation, despite war, despite all that we know to be wrong about contemporary life, that there is hope, and that hope burns fiercely. He does so in a series of essays, some of which take place while he is hiking with his teenage son in the Rockies; others are set at home in Bloomington, Indiana, or in London. One of the ways Sanders offers hope is through the prism of his family: he and his wife, their son and daughter, the parents of his son-in-law, and his mother form the nucleus of a web of relationships kept close by chosen proximity and active care. In “Beauty,” he makes so lovely a comparison of his daughter’s shining beauty on her wedding day to the beauty of physics and the cosmos as to take the breath away. In “Skill,” he makes the building of a stair railing a poem to his mother and to the skill of the welder who makes it a paean to good work well done. — Booklist  


Writing from the Center (1995)

Writing from the CenterThis volume is an important addition to the growing body of texts, both autobiographical and critical, that make up the new Midwestern regionalism. In the same vein as Kathleen Norris’s Dakota, Richard Rhodes’s The Inland Ground, and Marilyn Coffey’s Great Plains Patchwork, the present volume uses personal history as a vehicle to probe the Midwestern sense of place and cultural ethos–and conversely, to explore the ways the US heartland shapes the person. This is regionalism at its best: a literate, lyrical, self-conscious journey to find what is discrete and distinctive about life in the nation’s middle border. In a series of 12 interlinking essays, Sanders uses the concept of centeredness to discuss a range of subjects spanning ancestral history and marital life, landscape and ecology, work and faith, community and selfhood, and ultimately to rediscover his Ohio roots in his contemporary Indiana home. The book eludes easy categorization–part memoir, part poetic rumination, part academic discourse–but its success lies in this very medley of forms. — Choice


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