Writing About Pretty Nature Only

Here’s a recent critique of nature writing. The article specifically dissects “H Is for Hawk”—which I’ve seen in Orion and considered buying—among other books.

The author makes an interesting point about making nature “enchanting,” while at the same time not acknowledging that much of our landscape is, well, pretty shitty—made that way our culture. But that shitty land is also worth fighting for—and maybe even more so than the pristine postcard vistas. It’s no wonder that many people think that “nature” is ugly or dangerous or boring; we’ve made it that way, through a long line of “logical” eventualities, from agriculture to industrial capitalism.

The scarred wastelands of our planet don’t inspire documentaries or attract meditative retreats. But someone has to talk about them, because the whole earth will be a scarred wasteland if we don’t.

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