Authors Uncovered, a long-standing collaboration between Wilkinson Public Library and Between the Covers Bookstore, is launching its summer series with author David Gessner at the library Wednesday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Gessner will read from his latest book, “Quiet Desperation, Savage Delight: Sheltering with Thoreau in the Age of Crisis,” and take questions from the audience.
Gessner’s latest is a pandemic-era meditation on Henry David Thoreau, one of the original social distancers. A nature writer, Gessner turned to Thoreau for lessons on how to live. According to Torrey House Press, those lessons — of learning our own backyard, rewilding, loving nature, self-reliance, and civil disobedience — hold a secret that could help save us as we face the greater crisis of climate.
Between the Covers co-owner Daiva Chesonis said Gessner is no stranger to Telluride. Not long ago, a notable author talk on his book “All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West,” included a Q&A with Abbey, played by Terry Tice and Stegner, as portrayed by Ashley Boling, much to the delight of the assembled.
This Wednesday, Gessner will be inviting local poet and author, Craig Childs to the dais to hold what Chesonis described as “a regional, very current talk about the state of the West.”
Gessner is also the author of “Leave It As It Is: A Journey Through Theodore Roosevelt’s American Wilderness.” He chairs the Creative Writing Department at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, and is founder and editor-in-chief of Ecotone. Gessner lives in Wilmington, North Carolina with his wife, the novelist Nina de Gramont, and their daughter, Hadley.
Of Gessner’s newest book, Ginger Strand, author of “The Brothers Vonnegut” wrote: “It’s fashionable today to deride Henry David Thoreau as a privileged white dude mooning around a suburban ‘wilderness.’ Quiet Desperation, Savage Delight doesn’t deny this, but it digs deeper. Does Thoreau have anything to tell us at this vexing moment in history? For David Gessner, the answer is yes: Thoreau becomes a conduit to thinking about friendship, parenting, race, aging, technology, home, climate change, justice, and death. Gessner shows us how, rather than burying ourselves in old books, we might use them to go out and meet the world, in all its wild and broken beauty.”
Authors Uncovered, though back for this summer, never really dropped off the radar during the height of the pandemic, Chesonis explained. Masked, socially-distanced outdoor events allowed the collaborators to stage events in 2020.
“We were trying,” she said. “We actually pulled them off.”
This time around, with looser regulations, a come-one, come-all spirit will ensure seats can be filled.
“That will feel really good,” Chesonis said.
Gessner, along with the July 13 featured author, Nicole Walker, are published by Torrey House Press, a Salt Lake City-based publisher whose values are interconnected with the natural world and social justice.
“We believe that lively, contemporary literature is at the cutting edge of social change. We seek to inform, expand, and reshape the dialogue on environmental justice and stewardship for the natural world by elevating literary excellence from diverse voices,” reads the THP value statement.
With writers such as Childs, Gessner, Walker, Pam Houston, Amy Irvine, Betsy Gaines Quammen, Scott Graham and a host of others living in the region, Chesonis said the writers are more than willing to hop in the car and travel regionally for author talks and readings.
“We’re lapping that up,” she said.
THP, Chesonis added, are “coming out with things that are relevant and meaningful. They’re small and nimble,” as well as being the intermountain west’s only nonprofit environmental publisher.
“Torrey House Press publishes books at the intersection of the literary arts and environmental advocacy,” reads the mission statement. “THP authors explore the diversity of human experiences and relationships with place. THP books create conversations about issues that concern the American West, landscape, literature, and the future of our ever-changing planet, inspiring action toward a more just world.”
Nicole Walker, who is scheduled for Tuesday, July 13 will read from and discuss her book, “Processed Meat: Essays on Food, Flesh, and Navigating Disaster” a series of essays that examine “food choices and life choices, dissecting how we process disaster, repackage it, and turn it into something edible.”
“She’s a trip,” Chesonis said of Walker. “She’s super fun.”
Walker is the author of “The After-Normal: Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet,” “Sustainability: A Love Story,” “A Survival Guide for Life in the Ruins,” and other books. Recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and noted in multiple editions of The Best American Essays, Walker is the nonfiction editor at Diagram and professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Just when you thought the summer couldn’t get any better.
Authors Uncovered takes place on the east terrace of the Wilkinson Public Library from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. There is no charge to attend and no need to pre-register. Just come by.