Tag Archives: Books

Could green kill the desert?

Biologist Bruce M. Pavlik, author of The California Deserts: An Ecological Rediscovery, which I’m working my way through this week, has a great piece in the Los Angeles Times on Big Solar vs. the deserts.

The costs of industrializing the biologically rich California deserts will be measured in terms of species extinction, ecosystem degradation and the perpetuation of human self-deception.

We know better than to rush. A cautious, informed and integrated approach will secure sustainable, clean energy without sacrificing the future of these precious lands.

Read the rest.

Best field guide ever

I don’t do paid reviews of books nor other products, and I think bloggers who do are unethical — whether they disclose that the review is paid or not. I say this because I’m about to rant about how amazingly cool iBird Explorer Plus is, to the point where people might start to wonder. In fact, I didn’t even get a review copy: I paid full retail.

I used to fantasize about having a field guide that took advantage of high tech data storage and retrieval wizardry. Imagine: a hand-held, interactive and searchable database field guide, with range maps, identifying information, sound, and sharp images both drawn and photographed. (When I used to daydream about such a thing it generally weighed five pounds and was about the size of a standard box of Kleenex.)

I have that field guide now.

iBird Explorer browse screeniBird Explorer Plus, an application for the Apple iPhone, is a database of 891 North American bird species. (There’s a Windows Mobile version, Winged Explorer, which I haven’t seen, and a handful of smaller regional versions for the iPhone.)  You fire up the application and — after a splash screen displayed while the app loads — you find yourself at the browse window. You can select any of the 891 species, scrolling through the long alphabetical list, or you can hit the “search” button at the bottom and bring up the interactive key.

iBird Explorer key screen If you know that the bird in question is a swallow, say, or a wren, and you’re just not sure which one, you can enter some of the word in that text field at the top to narrow down your choices. You can then select known information from the fields below, which include location by state, general shape of the bird (is it hawk-shaped or duck-shaped or wren-shaped, and so forth), size, habitat (coast, desert, etc.), whether or not the bird frequents feeders, patterns and coloration of the suspect’s plumage, bill shape and size, and family. With each selection, the app narrows down the list of possibilities. Given the size of the database and the number of entries, the app processes your selections relatively quickly.

iBird Explorer individual species treatment The individual species accounts are well-designed if, for obvious reasons of data conservation, a bit cursory. Each individual page has links to succinct and well-organized species information, a more extensive treatment of the species on the web, range maps, a photo to complement the drawing, a list of similar species and — coolest of all for people like me who tend to bird by ear — recordings of each bird’s voice. These recordings are clear enough, and loud enough, that you could use them to attract birds of the appropriate species — and the software provides a reminder about the ethical implications of doing just that. The sound page also features a list of similar-sounding birds, if appropriate, and you can hear each similar recording without leaving the page.

iBird Explorer range map screen The guide has been compiled by the committed birders at whatbird.com, and they show their experience in the birding community by assuming they’re going to get flak for inaccuracies, die-hard ornithophiles picking nits of varying size over rangemaps and descriptions, descriptions of behavior, and the like. They’ve already heard from birders that the app doesn’t provide enough detail on seasonal variations in plumage, for instance. This is where the concept of the app really shines: the purchase price includes a lifetime subscription to updates, and the developers promise to incorporate users’ criticisms to make the app more and more useful with each iteration. Personally, I’d like to see the developers make use of the iPhone’s GPS functionality and calendar, so that one could rule out goshawks and cardinals when one’s phone happens to be in the Mojave and Scott’s orioles if it’s winter in the Mojave. Even better, the app could use those functions and flag species as “uncommon,” “occasional vagrant,” and “hurry up and call the Audubon Society hotline.”

This app is brilliant, and it’ll get better. It’s a clever use of the iPhone’s technology that will actually increase people’s knowledge of, and appreciation for, the planet they’re on. How often does that happen? I suspect that there will be people who’ll buy the iPhone (or iPod touch) solely to use this app, and I have trouble saying that’s a completely bad idea.

Available through the iTunes store, the full version of iBird Explorer costs $19.99.

I wish they’d stop printing books I want to read

Cover of book

…especially given that I have no income.

This one sounds good:

Every scientific study confirms that global warming will cause the amount of water in the Colorado River to decline, yet because we already use every drop, there is none to spare. To fill reservoirs takes surplus water and there is no surplus. Within a couple of decades, the Colorado River system will have too little water to maintain two large reservoirs even half full, requiring us to sacrifice Lake Powell in favor of Lake Mead. But don’t expect to hear it from the US Bureau of Reclamation: it continues to deny the significance of global warming, promising that there will always be plenty of water in the Colorado River and its reservoirs, the moral and scientific equivalent of the promises of the Corps of Engineers that the levees would protect New Orleans. Why do we have federal water agencies that we cannot trust?

James Lawrence Powell, on his book Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming, and the Future of Water in the West

Reviewing Dead Pool, The Salt Lake Tribune made the following observations:

For eight years under George W. Bush, the Bureau of Reclamation has refused to acknowledge the effects that global warming is having and will yet have on the Colorado, in spite of record temperatures and the recent 500-year drought that nearly brought Lake Powell to its knees. Instead, the bureau continues to use only data from the last century, the first half of which was one of the wettest periods in the known history of the Colorado. According to Bush’s BOR, in 2050 Lake Powell, which reflects the health of the river as a whole, will stand at 3,660 feet, just 40 feet below full pool.

Studies done by climate scientists suggest an entirely different future. Recent tree-ring studies have shown that the true multicentury average flow of the river is well below that used by the BOR. They also show periods when river flow, even without the effects of global warming, was lower than that experienced in our 500-year drought.

When one adds to this natural variability and drought-prone history even a conservative estimate of projected global warming effects, the results are devastating. Current estimates of how much the flow of the Colorado might be reduced range between 6 and 30 percent. Using just a 10-percent figure, and accepting the bureau’s own estimates of increased demand and new draws such as the Lake Powell pipeline, Powell gives a harrowing scenario in which Lake Powell drops to “dead pool” by 2022, rendering projects such as the pipeline useless almost as soon as they become operational.

But far scarier is the possibility that in this time frame the effects of the devastation of the Colorado due to overuse and reduced flow could well render life in today’s desert megacities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas impossible. What Powell’s book shows is that global warming is without any stretch of imagination capable of rendering life in western America unrecognizable not in our grandchildren’s lifetime but in ours.

I’m gonna have to work my review copy mojo, looks like. Hope I made sure to move my wand to the storage locker.

Kirk Douglas Talks About Lonely Are The Brave

At a party in the early 1960s someone handed Kirk Douglas a copy of Ed Abbey’s novel The Brave Cowboy, recommending Douglas read it. Douglas liked the book enough to option it, and hired Dalton Trumbo to write the screenplay of what became the 1962 sleeper western Lonely Are the Brave.

It’s a sweet movie that could never be made today for a number of reasons, probably chief among them the root idealism of the flawed main character Jack Burns. The ending is an ambiguous downer. A significant subplot involves the principled stand one of the major characters takes to aid undocumented border-crossers. The one cop possessed of any competence or virtue (played by Walter Matthau) is hamstrung by the thugs and buffoons that make up his subordinates. Modern audiences unaccustomed to points of view that don’t include smirks might find the movie a bit naive. Burns, a character who appeared in several of Abbey’s subsequent novels, rides into “Duke City” (a thinly veiled Albuquerque) to help a friend who’s been arrested for helping “illegals.” (That was Trumbo’s idea: in the novel, the crime was draft resistance.) Burns’ plan is to get himself arrested, find his friend in the lockup, then bust both of them out and head for the hills. The conflict between Burns and his friend over whether that’s at all a good idea is a mirror of the through-story: Burns is a man a hundred years out of date, unfit for the 20th Century urban West.

It’s one of my favorite films, and I’m looking forward to the day it’s released in Region 1 DVD format.

I just this evening found a YouTube interview with Kirk Douglas discussing Lonely Are The Brave, which Douglas still calls one of his best movies. It’s an interesting interview, with one major spoiler and a few behind-the-scenes anecdotes, basically a good teaser for the movie.

The first installment is below. If you want more, follow the links to parts two, three, four, five, six and seven. If you want to avoid the spoiler you can skip part five.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onzqlL3rey8&hl=en&fs=1&color1=0xe1600f&color2=0xfebd01&border=1]

The Zeke Book

Those of you buying gifts this month may, he reminded everyone sidelong, want to consider the Zeke Book for dog-loving recipients. Or for animal-loving recipients in general. Especially for those with older pets. I’ve heard from a lot of people that the writing there helped them cope with the stresses involved in loving aging pets, and with the grief of pet loss. But it’s not all down, by any means: Zeke was an engaging and silly and loving guy, and I think that comes across in the book.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the book, or any of my writing about Zeke over the years, please feel free to mention the book on your websites, blogs, livejournals or twitter feeds, or even (gasp!) offline, to friends and family.

And with that said, back to the job search. Thanks!

Walking With Zeke now available in stores

For instance, on Amazon. (Paste those reviews in!)

I still get more money from each direct sale through Lulu than I do if you buy from a retailer, but if you, say, have a store credit you want to use, you can now do so by buying the Zeke book.

If you prefer bricks and mortar, you can special-order through your favorite 3-d bookstore: give them ISBN 978-0-6151-9611-4 or ask them to look for my name and Zeke in Books In Print.

(This entry, being promotion of my offline writing, doesn’t count as a blog post.)


I have for the last few weeks been in possession of the new The Selected Letters of Wallace Stegner, edited by son Page Stegner. I have been working through the book since, given the vagaries of work and stresses domestic and otherwise.

I should say that reading it is hardly work: it’s a delight, the epistles of a man who was uncommonly gracious to friend and occasional foe alike. Stegner’s letters are thoughtful both in their content and its delivery. The rhythm the man brought to what, in other hands, would have been simple workaday correspondence is remarkable. His letters sing.

It has reminded me that I’ve often thought that many aspiring writers would do well to pay more attention to cadence. One of the best tricks I learned early on was to read my writing aloud. Not only will you tend to stumble in speaking the text where a reader would in reading it, but the cadence, if you listen for it, jumps out at you.

It was while reading Stegner that I first consciously noticed my habit, while reading well-crafted prose, of near-singing the words in my head. An editor for a few years then, I was accustomed to breaking up unwieldy sentences, to finding the short stark statements buried within and freeing them, panning the bright sharp nuggets from endless expanses of gray placer gravel. I was an environmental editor. I should have known better, given the one true lesson of the science of ecology, than to think that was all there was to editing for cadence. Context is everything. It was the long, unbroken river’s flow that put those nuggets where they were supposed to be.

I still break up the long sentences while editing, though these days I mainly edit my own text. As often as not I will look on either side of the new short sentence for two that can be blended. Or three. There are writers who can make a long staccato chain ring but I am not, strictly speaking, one of them. I need the smooth passages between the rapids.

Stegner was a master of cadence, that music generated by the smooth friction of adjoining sentences. It showed in his polemical writing as well as in his fiction. Here’s a paragraph from his famed “Wilderness Letter,” sent to David Pesonen at UC Berkeley in 1960 when Pesonen was helping to craft federal wilderness protection policies, and later much-anthologized:

I am not moved by the argument that those wilderness areas which have already been exposed to grazing or mining are already deflowered, and so might as well be “harvested.” For mining I cannot say much good except that its operations are generally short-lived. The extractable wealth is taken and the shafts, the tailings, and the ruins left, and in a dry country such as the American West the wounds men make in the earth do not quickly heal. Still, they are only wounds; they aren’t absolutely mortal. Better a wounded wilderness than none at all. And as for grazing, if it is strictly controlled so that it does not destroy the ground cover, damage the ecology, or compete with the wildlife it is in itself nothing that need conflict with the wilderness feeling or the validity of the wilderness experience. I have known enough range cattle to recognize them as wild animals; and the people who herd them have, in the wilderness context, the dignity of rareness; they belong on the frontier, moreover, and have a look of rightness. The invasion they make on the virgin country is a sort of invasion that is as old as Neolithic man, and they can, in moderation, even emphasize a man’s feeling of belonging to the natural world. Under surveillance, they can belong; under control, they need not deface or mar. I do not believe that in wilderness areas where grazing has never been permitted, it should be permitted; but I do not believe either that an otherwise untouched wilderness should be eliminated from the preservation plan because of limited existing uses such as grazing which are in consonance with the frontier condition and image.

Read this paragraph aloud. Set aside for now the quibbling with the phrasing, the mid-twentieth century archaisms of gender in simple noun or inapt metaphor, the range politics long-supplanted by new science. (Stegner was a thoughtful and generous soul, and while he resisted what he saw as trends he would likely have written this paragraph differently today.) Pay attention instead to the rhythm of each clause, each sentence, the rests and pauses. A sentence of 43 syllables leads, followed by one half as long but still complex, and then another with 46 syllables. Then comes a lull in the tall breakers: a sentence of 14 syllables, with one of 12 after that. The rhythm within the longer sentences is lively and complex, a dance of iamb and dactyl, trochee and anapest conjoined, a burbling stream of meaning. That fourth sentence accentuates the nuance. Two distinct clauses, each worthy of bracketing with capital and period, six syllables and then eight, and say each of them aloud again: the second’s rhythm matches the first, with an unstressed syllable added on either end. Stegner has provided the relief from the long stretches, but softened it so that the change is not so abrupt.

How much of this cadence was deliberate, and how much just flowed from his fingers through the typewriter onto the paper, set without margins for economy’s sake? Who knows? It was almost certainly some of each, part careful blue-pencil work, part first-draft inspiration, a drawing of music into the lungs and breathing it out in sentences.

John McPhee is another writer to whose work cadence seems to come as naturally as breathing.  Look at the first paragraphs of Rising From The Plains:

This is about high-country geology and a Rocky Mountain regional geologist. I raise that semaphore here at the start so no one will feel misled by an opening passage in which a slim young woman who is not in any sense a geologist steps down from a train in Rawlins, Wyoming, in order to go north by stagecoach into country that was still very much the Old West. She arrived in the Autumn of 1905, when she was twenty-three. Her hair was so blond it looked white. In Massachusetts, a few months before, she had graduated from Wellesley College and had been awarded a Phi Beta Kappa key, which now hung from a chain around her neck. Her field was classical studies. In addition to her skills in Latin and Greek, she could handle a horse expertly, but never had she made a journey into a region so remote as the one that lay before her.

“Meanwhile, Rawlins surprised her: Rawlins, where shootings had once been so frequent that there seemed to be — as citizens put it — “a man for breakfast every morning”; Rawlins, halfway across a state that was spending far more per annum than to support its nineteen-year-old university. She had expected a “backward” town, a “frontier” town, a street full of badmen like Big Nose George, the road agent, the plunderer of stagecoaches, who signed his hidden treasure maps “B.N. George.” Instead, this October evening, she was met at the station by a lackey with a handcart, who wheeled her luggage to the Ferris Hotel. A bellboy took over, his chest a constellation of buttons. The place was three stories high, and cozy with steam heat. The lights were electric. There were lace curtains. What does it matter, she reflected, if the pitchers lack spouts?

There is so much to appreciate in that passage: the alternation of long and short sentences, the feeling of momentum building in sentences like the first two in paragraph two, and artful landing in the short simple declaratives that follow.

It is writing that nearly begs to be read aloud.

It is music.


More folks Walking With Zeke

A couple more pieces of feedback for the Zeke Book:

Devious Diva, in comments on this post, says:

I just finished reading Walking with Zeke and I am bound up with him right now. Overwhelmingly moving at times but not sentimentally enough that I couldn’t read on. I reached the end full of tears and of hope and of nostalgia.

Zeke will forever be with me though I never met or knew him. This is a book of love that transcends who or what this love is about.

Thank you for showing me what is possible…

Thank you, DD. I’m so glad it spoke to you that strongly.

At their best, book reviews approach essay status, and our Theriomorph has posted just such a short essay — a very, very flattering short essay — about Walking With Zeke on her blog. A brief excerpt:

[I]n this book, a whole arc emerges: not the whole story of Zeke and Chris’ bond, or Chris’ loss, which is finally private and unknowable by another – but the arc of loving, and letting go at the end of a beloved’s life. Imperfectly. Against one’s will. Bereft. Loyal. Enraged. With devotion and care for the gifts given and received. With final, speechless loss untouchable by platitudes. With, in the end, graceful familiarity.

If you haven’t bought a copy of Walking With Zeke already — or, what the hell? Even if you have — you can get one here.


This story, a vaguely repellent Rachel Donadio piece in the New York Times Book Review, has provoked a bit of discussion in the blog world. The piece discusses the use of books as romantic markers, a sort of Seinfeldian trope in which “has Updike on coffee table” joins “wants/doesn’t want children” and “snorts while laughing” and “lives with mother” in the list of romantic dealbreakers.

There are a couple of good points in the article, though they’re hidden under a thick layer of superficial. One gets the feeling that the whole notion of rejecting a potential love due to the books on his or her coffee table is really a way of covering, as Donadio kinda implies, for lacking chemistry. I’m not sure why I don’t want you, and if I did then telling you the real reason would be too complicated or hurtful, so I’ll just blame Isabel Allende. Easier that way.

I would like to think that if a guest was actually interested in the person whose coffee table they were inspecting, they might ask something along the lines of “Reading Eggers, eh? How’d you like it?” And if the person gives the obviously wrong answer, which in this case would be “It’s good!,” querent could conceivably pursue the matter further by asking a difficult question such as “why do you say so?” It might be that you’d learn something, whether that’s a way of finding value in a book you’d dismissed or a really solid reason to say you have an early meeting the next day and you really ought to get going.

But no. Books aren’t, apparently, things that allow you to take in stories from other people’s points of view, to learn about topics grand or repellent, or to revel in the use of language. They’re lifestyle accessories, useful for indicating the Kind Of Person You Are. The notion that someone might actually find a good reason to read a book they really don’t like, or a book they do like on a topic they find distasteful, seems to have escaped these folks, who would apparently dismiss a potential date as a Nazi if they found a copy of Shirer on his shelf.

The discussion in the larger blog world was even more disturbing, with threads on a few different blogs devolving quickly from reasonable discussion of the phenomenon in the posts, to commenters listing their own personal dealbreakers. Some of the discussion made me wonder how old the commenters were.  I don’t know about you, but I find the notion of becoming close to someone who has exactly the same taste as I do kinda unnerving, and I stand jaw agape at the number of people who claim they’d only consider falling for someone with a set of Pokemon cards that matches theirs. “Not liking Firefly might be a deal-breaker for me” indeed. I liked Firefly fine, and if I was met with a line like that I’d probably state in no uncertain terms that Thundercats had better character development.

(It restored my faith in humanity, though, that so many of the commenters in those threads said things like “I used to have dealbreakers like that, until I met my One True Love, who violated all of them.”)

I look at the books I have out where a visitor could see them without heading for the shelves — all of them books I’ve read or re-read or consulted in the last week, or that I plan to start in the next week, listed in roughly that order — and I wonder what a potential date would make of them. The list:

Handbook of the Indians of California, A.L. Kroeber
The Selected Letters of Wallace Stegner, Page Stegner, Editor
Koan Garden: Ten Wu Wei Yin Stories, Jessamyn Smyth (out of print)
The Open Laboratory: The Best Science Writing on Blogs, Reed Cartwright, Editor (I’m in this one, actually)
The Search for the Giant Squid, Richard Ellis
Eros the Bittersweet, Anne Carson
Glorified Dinosaurs, Luis M. Chiappe
Clouded Sky, Miklos Radnoti
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families, Philip Gourevitch
Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya, Caroline Elkins
Divided We Stand: A Biography of New York City’s World Trade Center, Eric Darton

I think there’s one or two things there that might conceivably persuade someone I was bone-jumpable, but all of them in combination? Clearly, that hypothetical date of mine would need a better metric. Like checking the condiments in the fridge. Now there’s a window into a person’s soul.

What books are you reading these days? Anything you’d recommend? Take it away in comments.

Self-promoting myself

CRN readers have begun to weigh in on the merits of my book Walking with Zeke, and as I am going to have to get into the habit of selling my writing if I want to eat, I thought I’d share some of their kind remarks with those of you who have not yet bought all the copies of WWZ you can afford. It’s all about persuasion!

First, there’s your friend and mine kathy a, who says

i finished the book last night….  thank you!  your story of Zeke is so powerful.

Joy delurked (sort of) to offer this kind note:

I got your book yesterday and have already read it (I’m a fast reader and didn’t put it down).  It’s a wonderful tribute to your best buddy.  I found your site just about the time Zeke died and I cried along with you then as my own dog had died not too long before that.  It’s a moving and beautifully written tale and I’m glad that you decided to write it.

CRN stalwart jmartin pulled out the stops in her feedback, in a very flattering and detailed review. I’ve pasted it below. Enjoy reading, and if you find yourself curious as to whether the praise for Walking With Zeke is warranted, please consider buying your very own copy.

I here swallow the last remnants of my false modesty and turn this post over to jmartin. Thank you.


Walking with Zeke

I admittedly had two worries about the book. How could the last years of a dog, no matter how cherished, fail to seem slight in comparison to Clarke’s masterful CRN essays?  How could material initially contained in blog posts be ordered or shaped?

Both concerns were unfounded: I love this book, unalloyed.


First and perhaps shockingly: this is not a dog book. Rather, Clarke has written a memoir on his enmeshment, his overlapping boundaries with the natural world. Clarke himself admits only that he writes “about wildlife, family, paleontology and Zeke through the lens of how I feel about my relationship with myself.” I submit that Zeke is not truly a subject at all, but rather a joint-venturer and co-author. His royalties, one presumes, were paid in advance, in filet tender.

Clarke (with Zeke) walks through landscapes—the Bay Area, the Mojave, Northern New York State—with an unmatched ability to inhabit the growing and the breathing, the fossil and its stone. His writing is umami, and so triggers those newly-discovered receptors. The reader tastes the savory, the yum.

There are the careful observations, which you want to carry away and sleep with, as Freda the rat does with dollar bills from Clarke’s wallet. After a Christmas tree is sacrificed, “[t]he shredder smells of conifer sachet.” A fire in the Oakland Hills spews “[l]ive embers the size of chickpeas.” Soaproot leaves are “frozen splashes around imagined points of impact.” Gardening on a hill of diatomite (fossil Miocene plankton) is like “walking on very stale halvah.”

There are the pervasive seams of esoteric knowledge: botany, gardening, corvid behaviors, paleontology, geology. Clarke displays the world’s workings: the mechanism of cholla barbs; co-evolution of dogs and humans; how soaproot’s saponin-filled leaves suggest assignment to the Agave family; Mayan legends of the coyote; the altitudinal range of the Joshua Tree. Clarke obviously loves the physical world with his head as well as his heart. Each detail flows seamlessly from the narrative, yet lends freight and authority. 

There is throughout, one must note, a witty, inimitable authorial voice for which Zeke is blameless. A vet suggests opiates for pain. The author fears that Zeke will write “senseless fever dream poetry,” and riffs a “Kibble Khan” Coleridge parody. Clarke finds a tail shed by a Western Fence lizard, likely under feline duress. He uses it to boost the growth of a potted cactus, in hopes that the plant someday will fall on a cat and effect “the revenge of the tail.”

Musing on a Buddhist approach to environmental protection, Clarke opines: “I want no part of any enlightenment posited on the nonexistence of bird song, of capsicum, of salt water or libido or tooth enamel.”

Do we hear Clarke speak about his dog? Absolutely, his book sings just as he sang to Zeke on every walk:  “nonsense, mainly, about the squirrels as we walk past them or about his bad breath or dirty feet or general fuzziness”. But Zeke is but one strand of Clarke’s braided love of the physical world. On hands and knees in January, Clarke grazes the miner’s lettuce of the California hills: it “tastes like home, and spinach.”


We also read, of course, of Zeke’s decline and Clarke’s grief.  At book’s end, Zeke’s world is his bed; the author’s world-gaze is similarly blindered. This is exactly where Clarke made an unerring decision: to maintain blog-post order.

The posts themselves had not been journal snippets, but rather had knit past, present and future. Posts meditated on memories, current events and anticipation of loss—“[a] long life is a landscape of holes where things once grew.” Clarke marries these layers of the human temporal with observations on geologic time. The result is a deep earth perspective of aging, death and grief.

This perspective wrings out tears and self-pity, and instead impresses a dry but detailed story into the land. The sorrows of life on earth are the earth. Passages like this preserve our brief human lives, and the even shorter lives of the dogs who leave us behind:

“Green serpentine from the earth’s mantle, sand laid down on the bed of a Miocene sea, shale made of silt washed down from the Sierra, diatomite from a deep trench off Monterey: all mix as pebbles in the bed of Pinole Creek. All of them will wash out to the bay, eventually. A gravel delta runs fifty yards out from the creek mouth now. It was not there last year. At quarter to three tomorrow morning, the tide will wash over it again.”


Walking With Zeke now available

zeke book

From the introduction:

Zeke could wake me from a sound sleep by staring silently, his desire fully infiltrating my heart. A thousand times, in play, he would lunge for my face and snap, his bite strong enough that it would have disfigured me if he had not stopped short by a quarter inch. And I never flinched once, even when his whiskers grazed my face. I trusted him implicitly, and he me. On his last night, the pain of his arthritis grown more than the drugs could mask, I lifted him the wrong way and it hurt him, and he clamped his jaws around my face. It was the merest touch, tips of his fangs resting softly against my eyelids, and then he pulled away. Even in his blinding, terminal agony he would not harm me.

Walking with Zeke, an edited compilation of several years of writing about my best friend’s life and death, is now available for sale. Softcover, 218 pages, $17.95 US, ISBN 978-0-6151-9611-4.

It will be available through online bookstores and by order at your local independent store soon, but you can buy it here right now. (And I get a bigger cut this way.)

Tell your friends.