Craig Childs, naturalist, adventurer, desert ecologist, and frequent contributor to National Public Radio's Morning Edition is dividing his time this semester between his home in Crawford, Colo., and teaching at the University of Montana's Environmental Studies Writing Program in Missoula. The airline travel sounds horrendous, but having Childs in Montana can only add to an appreciation of our natural environment while giving us exposure to his range of writing.
I first became familiar with Childs’ writing in THE SECRET KNOWLEDGE OF WATER, a book describing a series of month-long treks through American
deserts in search of water.
An astute observer of nature and a concise writer with a knack for storytelling, he records each significant occurrence in an attempt to understand how the absence or presence of something most of us take for granted dictates life and death in the desert environment.
The newest collection of narratives, THE ANIMAL DIALOGUES focuses on his encounters in the animal world. Whether writing about likely creatures (bear, mountain lion, coyote, dog and cat) or the unlikely (squid, rainbow trout, red-spotted toad, even the mosquito) Childs approaches each with equal curiosity.
Each vivid experience with a particular animal is replete with astonishing facts about the species’ behavior, habitat, breeding and life span. But the joy of each essay lies in Childs' ability to portray the sometimes brutal beauty of the wilderness, to capture the individual essence of wild creatures, and to transport the reader inside the animal kingdom.
Other books by Craig Childs include:
House of Rain: Tracking a vanished civilization across the American southwest
The Way Out: A journey across the Navajo Reservation with a close friend and former inner-city cop
The Desert Cries: Following a season of deadly flash floods in Arizona
Soul of Nowhere: Deep wilderness journeys across the Southwest
Grand Canyon: Time Below the Rim
Barbara Theroux is the manager of Fact & Fiction, now part of the Bookstore at the University of Montana.