An Eco-TravelogueOne woman’s intentional exploration of the wild world
Looking for adventure and continuing a process of self-discovery, Janisse Ray has repeatedly set out to immerse herself in wildness, to be wild, and to learn what wildness can teach us. From overwintering with monarch butterflies in Mexico to counting birds in Belize, the stories in Wild Spectaclecapture her luckiest ...
Anchored firmly in two places Ray has called home—Montana and southern Georgia—the sixteen essays here span a landscape from Alaska to Central America, connecting common elements in the ecosystems of people and place. One of her abiding griefs is that she has missed the sights of explorers like Bartram, Sacagawea, and Carver: flocks of passenger pigeons, routes of wolves, herds of bison. She craves a wilder world and documents encounters that are rare in a time of disappearing habitat, declining biodiversity, and a world too slowly coming to terms with climate change.
In an age of increasingly virtual, urban life, Ray embraces the intentionality of trying to be a better person balanced with seeking out natural spectacle, abundance, and less trammeled environments. She questions what it means to travel into the wild as a woman, speculates on the impacts of ecotourism and travel in general, questions assumptions about eating from the land, and appeals to future generations to make substantive change.
Wild Spectacleexplores our first home, the wild earth, and invites us to question its known and unknown beauties and curiosities.
Praise for Ecology of a Cracker Childhood
"Painfully and powerfully told.... Ray's passion for preserving and restoring this unsung landscape is heartfelt and refreshing." — Tony Horowitz, New York Times
"The forests of the southeast find their Rachel Carson . . . . In Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, part memoir, part clarion call to save the longleaf pine, she casts a loving but unflinching eye on growing up poor and fundamentalist in southeast Georgia.” — Anne Raver, New York Times
"A gutsy, wholly original memoir of ragged grace and raw beauty...Ray’s redemptive story of an impoverished childhood brings to mind the novels of Dorothy Allison and the nature writing of Amy Blackmarr, but the stunning voice and vision are hers alone." — Kirkus Reviews (STARRED)
"Ray's writing is at its best when she recalls her most harrowing memories, such as when her father gave her and her two brothers a whipping after they stood by and watched a friend kill a turtle. These scenes resonate during the interpolated naturalist chapters, which evoke the calm of the landscape and give readers a respite from the anger and pain that drive much of the family narrative. In a final chapter (in which she includes appendixes on the specific endangered species of the South), Ray laments the 'daily erosion of unique folkways as our native ecosystems and all their inhabitants disappear.' What remains most memorable are the sections where Ray describes, and attempts to prevent, her own disconnection from the Georgia landscape." — Publishers Weekly
Ecology of a Cracker Childhood is Ray’s paean to the filth, rot, shit, and rust of her childhood on a Georgia junkyard. Half memoir, half polemic, Cracker Childhood is both a recollection of how Ray came to understand the natural world’s value and beauty, and an impassioned explanation of why the longleaf pine ecosystems of southeast Georgia, Alabama, and Florida must be defended against any further assault by humanity." — Grist
Praise for Wild Card Quilt
"Ray celebrates the richness of the natural world and the comforts of family. — Publishers Weekly
Praise for Pinhook
"Her moving book is a tribute to a small but crucial wild place and a call for readers to help preserve it and others like it." — Publishers Weekly
Praise for The seed Underground
"An enchanting narrative...Even couch potatoes will be enthralled by Ray’s intimate, poetically conversational stories of her encounters with the 'lovely, whimsical, and soulful things [that] happen in a garden, leaving a gardener giddy.'"— Publishers Weekly
- Jordan Literary Prize