A quirky and reverent romp through nature with an irreverently funny guide
In these wry and explosively funny essays, nature obsessive Charles Hood reveals his abiding affection for the overlooked and undervalued parts of the natural world. Like a Bill Bryson of the Mojave exurbs, Hood takes us on a joyride through the obscure, finding wilderness in Hollywood palms, the airports of Alaska, and the empty lots of Palmdale. In a zinger-filled whirl of literary and artistic allusions, he celebrates Audubon's droopy condor, the world-changing history of a cactus parasite, and the weird art of natural history dioramas. This debut collection of creative nonfiction from a widely published poet, photographer, and wildlife guide unveils the wonderment of nature's underbelly with poetic vision and singular wit.
Poet and essayist Charles Hood grew up next to the Los Angeles River and has been a factory worker, ski instructor, boat salesman, and birding guide. He stopped counting birds when his list reached 5,000, but he soon replaced it with a mammal list, which now nears 1,000. Wild LA, his book in collaboration with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, was named the best nonfiction book of 2019 by the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. Hood currently lives and teaches in the Antelope Valley and is the author of Heyday’s A Californian’s Guide to the Birds among Us and A Californian’s Guide to the Mammals among Us, as well as nine and a half books of poetry.
"Among nature writers now working, Charles Hood may be my favorite. He never stops telling stories, and his perspective is fundamentally comic, even when he's recounting a tragedy."
– Jonathan Franzen
"Once you've had a taste of the world of Charles Hood, you'll want to follow him wherever he goes. He's brilliantly entertaining and this is his best book yet."
– Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen
"Hood is the love child of Rebecca Solnit and Edward Abbey, assuming such a child had been raised in an art colony by demented garden gnomes."
– Michael Guista, author of Brain Work, winner of the Bakeless Prize for Literature
"Charles Hood's essay about James Audubon's work should be required for anyone who possesses a pair of eyes, whether or not they use them for birdwatching or perusing art."
– William Fox, Director of The Center for Land + Environment, Nevada Museum of Art