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David Gessner

Author of Sick of Nature

David Gessner Bw

David Gessner is the author of six books of literary nonfiction, including Sick of Nature, Soaring with Fidel, and Return of the Osprey, which was chosen as one of the top ten nonfiction books of the year 2001 by The Boston Globe. His essay “Those Who Teach, Write” appeared in the college issue of The New York Times Magazine in September 2008, and other essays have appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, The Pushcart Prize anthology, NPR’s This I Believe, The Georgia Review, and The Harvard Review. He is a contributing editor to OnEarth magazine, the journal of the National Resource Defense Council, where he has contributed cover stories and features, and his book reviews have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, and the Los Angeles Times. Gessner taught Environmental Writing as a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard, and is currently a Professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where he also edits the literary journal of place, Ecotone. His Youtube video “Skiing the Beach” has been seen by over 12,000 viewers and he now devotes much of his energy to blogging on his website, “Bill and Dave’s Cocktail Hour” -

In April 2007 Gessner won the John Burroughs award for Best Natural History Essay, confirming his place at the forefront of a new generation of writers who meld the techniques of memoir and New Journalism with writing about the natural world. Far from the staid, hushed-voiced nature writing of the past, this new work abandons cobwebbed environmental clichés and uses humor, scene, and science to present a vibrant intertwining of the human and so-called natural worlds. Over the past six years, Gessner has published four important books of literary nonfiction, beginning with Return of the Osprey in 2001. The Boston Globe chose Osprey as one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2001 and called it a “classic of American Nature Writing,” but Gessner responded with Sick of Nature, which attempted to break new ground for the nature essay and overturn old verities. Of Sick of Nature, renowned eco-critic Michael Branch wrote that Gessner, “has positioned himself as a sort of Woody Allen of environmental writers,”and that “Like Emerson, who observed that the €˜dead forms’ of institutional practice must be revivified through radical new acts of intellectual, aesthetic and moral imagination, Gessner rails against the narrowness of environmental literature to open the field to new (if less earnest) approaches.

In most recent book, Soaring with Fidel, Gessner continued to push the genre, following the entire 7,000 mile migration of the osprey from New England to Cuba and Venezuela, while refusing to reach for easy wonder or old language. He attempts to convey the sheer excitement of linking one’s life to the natural world, believing, as John Muir put it, that,“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” Gessner’s passion for finding new writing about place and the natural world is also reflected in Ecotone, the literary journal he founded in 2004, which has published the work of young unknown writers besides that of Wendell Berry, Rick Bass, Reg Saner, Joy Williams, and Gerald Stern.