The BookWalker's Top Pick titles includes works of bestselling authors and emerging writers. Titles were selected and voted by our staff. Please note: the selection process is heavily biased but fairly influenced by personal preference and the editor's opinions.
This is the story
From one of the last working fire lookouts comes this sequel to the award-winning Fire Season―a story of calamity and resilience in the world's first Wilderness.A dozen years into his dream job keeping watch over the Gila National Forest of New Mexico, Philip Connors bore witness to the blaze he had always feared: a mega fire that forced him off his mountain by helicopter, and forever changed the forest and watershed he loved. It was one of many transformations that arrived in quick succession, not just fire and flood, but the death of a fellow lookout in a freak accident and a tragic plane crash that rocked the community he called home.
Beginning as an elegy for a friend he cherished like a brother, A Song for the River opens into a chorus of voices singing in celebration of a landscape redolent with meaning―and the river that runs through it, whose waters are threatened by a potential dam.
The ways of water and the ways of fire, the lines tragedy carves on a life, the persistent renewal of green shoots sprouting from ash: these are the subjects of A Song for the River. Its argument on behalf of things wild and free could not be more timely; the goal is nothing less than permanent protection for that rarest of things in the American West, a free-flowing river―the sinuous and gorgeous Gila.
It must not perish.
Reviews and What Readers Say
" Beautifully written. Precisely worded. A true joy to read that opens your mind and encourages you to look outside to discover what’s inside. There is depth here that cannot hide the joy of love, life, and something bigger than ourselves."
―Cascade Reader, Amazon Client, Verified Purchase
“ In the aftermath of tragedy, Connors has written a beautiful meditation on life and death, and a paean to the natural world that sustains us. In prose as tight and clean as a drumbeat he mourns and celebrates friends loved and now gone. This is a tremendous follow-up to his seminal first book, Fire Season. ”
―JJ Amaworo Wilson, Amazon Client, Verified Purchase
"In the literary tradition of Gary Snyder and Edward Abbey, Philip Connors climbs down from his fire lookout to tell a story of love and loss along the sacred waters of the Gila River, in the heart of the Gila Wilderness, a place of rock and ruins, juniper and pine. The book was a page-turner for me, lyrically paced and a real pleasure to read."."
―Doug Peacock, author of Grizzly Years
"Philip Connors is the best sort of writer, one alert to mysteries and attuned to absurdity. His concerns are elemental: fire, water, earth, and air. Add to that loss. Add to that love. A Song for the River becomes a potent, moving tribute to wilderness, solitude, and some extraordinary people gone too soon.”
―Nina MacLaughlin, author of Hammer Head
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In 2002, Philip Connors left the Wall Street Journal for a seasonal job with the U.S. Forest Service in New Mexico. That became the subject of his first book, Fire Season: Field Notes From a Wilderness Lookout, which Amazon named the best nature book of 2011 and which won a National Outdoor Book Award, the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award, the Reading the West Award for Nonfiction, and the Grand Prize at the Banff Mountain Book Competition. His second book, All the Wrong Places, recounts his life in the shadow of his brother's suicide and was named one of the 100 best nonfiction books of 2015 by Kirkus. His third book, A Song for the River, celebrates the lives and mourns the deaths of his comrades in conservation in the Gila Wilderness; Amazon named it one of the 20 best nonfiction books of the year. He lives in the Mexican-American borderlands.