All the Powerful Invisible Things
A Sportswomen's NotebookAn eloquent chronicle about the complexities of being an outdoors woman
All the Powerful Invisible Things is an eloquent memoir of self-discovery and a chronicle of outdoor life. Refusing “impoverished ideas of passion,” Gretchen Legler writes about the complexities of being a woman who fishes and hunts, as well as about the more intimate terrain of family and sexuality. The result ...
She writes: “I used to hate being a woman. When I was young, I believed I was a boy. Throughout college I never knew what it was like to touch a woman, to kiss a woman, to have a woman as a friend. All of my friends were men. I am thirty years old now, and I feel alone. I am not a man. Knowing this is like an earthquake. Just now all the lies are starting to unfold. I don’t blend in as well or as easily as I used to. I refuse to stay on either side of the line.”
Like many women, Legler finds that her presence identifies the unmarked boundaries of where she is and is not welcome, learning when it is advantageous to pass as male and when it is better to disappear into the woods and trees around her. This contrasts sharply with her experience of nature as a source of spiritual sustenance, a space of unparalleled freedom where she can lose herself in something larger.
Twenty-five years after it was first published, All the Powerful Invisible Things remains a highwater mark for women writing about the outdoors and is one of the few works to tackle the intricacies of gender identity and sexuality with transcendental aplomb.
"What this volume evokes is beyond sympathy; the reader aches for Legler's pain." — Kirkus Reviews
"These moving essays so seamlessly connect her inner and outer selves that Legler (a creative writing teacher whose work has been anthologized elsewhere) even manages to combine such seemingly at-odds subjects as her love of and respect for animals and her love of hunting, her affection for her ex-husband and her strong sexual attraction to women, without ever sounding hypocritical or confused." — Publishers Weekly
"In these compelling, engrossing essays we are in the hands of a writer with an acute eye and a steady pulse, one of the most forthright literary talents in nature writing." — Patricia Hampl, author of Virgin Time
"Part nature guide, part family history and part feminist tract. Gretchen Legler captures the reader's imagination with the same skill and precision with which she catches spring walleyes on the Rainey River." — The New York Times
"Deep woods. A candlit tent. A woman writes 'noting out of the ordinary' in a notebook, recording her footsteps on varied paths, lessons about 'finding who you are. Who you are. Who you are.' When a drop of sweat smears the ink, she dries it with her shirttail; head erect, she stares at darkness outside and swallos fear. 'You can't ignore anything or someone will die,' she writes, rubs her stiffened fingers, listening to the river's flow, to the waterfall of shadows in her brain. Day by day, she records how other lives pass into ours, 'this passing of other blood and muscle, into our own tongues and hearts.' In Gretchen Legler's notebooks I read truths I recognize and celebrate; so will other readers." — Linda Hasselstrom, author of Land Circle: Collected from the Land
"Legler, a lifelong hunter and angler, explores in a roughly chronological series of essays her relationships with hunting, fishing, killing, nature, her family, her husband, other hunters, and her women friends and lovers...Legler has a spare yet vivid style, heavy on sensuous descriptions of sights, sounds, and smells." — Library Journal
"Full of lovely moments..." — ISLE Journal