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The Nature Notebooks
Don Mitchell

Hardscrabble Books–Fiction of New England

2004 • 244 pp. 5 3/4 x 8 3/4"
Fiction & Literature / Nature

$24.95 Hardcover, 978-1-58465-357-8

"Trouble ensues when an environazi from the Left Coast hatches a plan to take down a mountain development—Witty, intelligent activist-caper, with a thought-provoking narrative that doesn't get swamped in its own satire."Kirkus Reviews

Eco-terrorism comes to the Green Mountain State in a chilling novel of good intentions and tragic consequences.

Three Vermont women enroll in a nature writing class, only to find themselves drawn into a plot to commit an act of destruction in the name of the environment.
Though Lauren Blackwood, Marianna Finch, and Rachel Katz each claim an interest in "nature," the notebooks they keep for their class reveal their very different attitudes about the natural world. For Lauren, a farmer and breeder of llamas, nature is a powerful if unpredictable partner; for Marianna, a real estate agent, it is an aesthetic experience; and for Rachel, an extreme sports enthusiast, it is a cause and a commitment.

In a narrative tour de force, the story unfolds in the form of entries from these nature notebooks. In separate accounts, each woman describes the events leading up to an act of sabotage on Mount Mansfield. Each version reveals new perspectives, new layers of deception, and new insights into the mysterious, charismatic Kyle Hess, a well-known nature writer and activist from California whose role in this act of eco-terrorism is gradually revealed.

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Reviews / Endorsements

"He convincingly captures the nuances of several strands of 21st-century environmentalism, from Hess's self-righteous extremism to the sheep farmer's earnest efforts to balance her love of the land with its human uses."Yankee

"The Nature Notebooks is one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking novels I've read in a long time."Howard Frank Mosher, The Burlington Free Press

"A surprise new student to a nature-writing group in Vermont triggers the radicalization of some residents of a small town facing the development of a ski lodge on Mount Mansfield. The newcomer is Kyle Hess, author of a well-regarded nature book and, unbeknownst to most of his classmates, a fugitive from the California eco-terrorist scene. Hess uses his considerable charm on three female members of the group to heighten their interest in nature to the point where they are willing to commit to helping him help other activists sabotage the ski-lodge development. Written in the form of separate entries from nature notebooks maintained by the three women, the narrative slowly reveals their personalities and sensibilities: Lauren, a farmer and llama breeder; Marianna, a widow and real-estate agent; and Rachel, an extreme-sports enthusiast. Using the particular vulnerabilities of the women, Kyle manipulates each of them into making modest efforts to conserve nature, which then escalate into the more radical actions of eco-terrorists."Booklist

DON MITCHELL teaches creative writing at Middlebury College. He is the author of three previous novels (Thumb Tripping, for which he also wrote the screenplay; Four-Stroke; and The Souls of Lambs: A Fable); three collections of essays (Moving Upcountry, Living Upcountry, and Growing Upcountry); and of the Compass American Guide to Vermont. He lives on a sheep farm with his former hitchhiking companion and wife of thirty-four years.

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 09:38:45 -0500