Lyrical essays on place from a longtime resident of the
Massachusetts shore.Finch, coeditor of the Norton Book of Nature
Writing, has the nature-essay form down cold. He observes some
quotidian fact of life, elaborates on it for a few pages, and
closes with a sententious moral. So it is with the title essay, in
which Finch describes the assassination of a yellow hornet by a
spider that had hidden itself carefully away in a corner of its
study; the spider, he writes, was almost solicitous, as if
ministering to the stricken hornet, as carefully and as kindly as
possible ending its struggles and its agony. The moral Finch draws
is this: There is only the stillness of an eternal present and the
silent architecture of perfectly strung possibilities. Finch
repeats the formula in 43 other short pieces, all crafted at
magazine-filler or radio-spot length: here he considers the
behavior of migratory whales (the former mainstay of the Cape Cod
economy), there he writes of ancient trees, wily fish, and passing
birds. Unlike some practitioners of the nature-essay form, Finch
even finds room in nature for humans (albeit in a wary, Robert
Frost-ish way). For humans, he observes, are as responsible as the
winds and tides for shaping places like Cape Cod, manifesting
themselves in a well-ploughed field, a well-tended garden, colorful
flower-boxes, planted trees, drained bogs and swamps, and barn full
of hay and a woodshed full of stove logs. Finch is meditative and
celebratory, and he almost always avoids the genres trapschief
among them sentimentality and self-indulgence.Readers familiar with
Cape Cod will deepen their view of the place by following Finchs
pages; those who do not know it will likely want to have a look for
themselves. (Kirkus Reviews)
Spanning more than twenty years, these essays record changes not
only in the natural environment of Cape Cod, but in the writer's
own life.. Death of a Hornet is one man's elegant rendering of Cape
Cod, a sandy, scrub-oaked, tough, and vulnerable spit of land
reaching out into the Atlantic Ocean. Here are stories of "natural
adventures" that readers of Finch's previous books have come to
expect, as well as longer meditations on the future of the Cape's
fragile environment, the experience of living in one place for a
long time and having to leave it, and the limitations of human
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