An urgent, deeply moving final work of nonfiction from the National Book Award-winning author of Arctic Dreams and Horizon, a literary icon whose writing, fieldwork, and mentorship inspired generations of writers and activists.
An ardent steward of the land, fearless traveller, and unrivalled observer of nature and culture, Barry Lopez died after a long illness on Christmas Day 2020. The previous summer, a wildfire had consumed much of what was dear to him in his home place and the community around it – a tragic reminder of the climate change of which he'd long warned.
At once a cri de coeur and a memoir of both pain and wonder, this remarkable collection of essays adds indelibly to Lopez's legacy and includes previously unpublished works, some written in the months before his death. They unspool memories both personal and political, among them tender, sometimes painful stories of his childhood in New York City and California, reports from expeditions to study animals and sea life, recollections of travels to Antarctica and other extraordinary places on earth, and meditations on finding oneself amid vast, dramatic landscapes. He reflects on those who taught him, including Indigenous elders and scientific mentors who sharpened his eye for the natural world. We witness poignant returns from his travels to the sanctuary of his Oregon backyard, adjacent to the McKenzie River. And in prose of searing candour, he reckons with the cycle of life, including his own, and – as he has done throughout his career – with the dangers the earth and its people are facing.
With an introduction by Rebecca Solnit that speaks to Lopez's keen attention to the world, including its spiritual dimensions, Embrace Fearlessly the Burning World opens our minds and souls to the importance of being wholly present for the beauty and complexity of life.
Barry Lopez (1945-2020) was the author of various essay and story collections: Arctic Dreams, which received the National Book Award; Of Wolves and Men, a National Book Award finalist; and, most recently, Horizon, which was named a "best book of the year" by The New York Times, NPR, and The Guardian. A frequent contributor to both American and foreign journals, Lopez was the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim, Lannan, and National Science foundations and was honoured by numerous institutions for his literary, humanitarian, and environmental work. He lived in Finn Rock, Oregon, with his wife, Debra Gwartney.
– One of the most anticipated books of 2022 – Lit Hub, BookPage
"To meet Barry was to feel we were entering a sphere where a language was spoken that had been fading away – the language of our inseparable connection with the natural world – yet here was a speaker who was renewing it [...] A lonely speaker then – he must often have wondered whether anyone was truly listening – he is an essential speaker now."
– Margaret Atwood in Orion Magazine
"I don't know of any other writer who so mesmerizingly, so seemingly effortlessly, weaves together art, science, and poetry [...] Barry Lopez is one of my literary heroes."
– Andrea Wulf
"No one has worked harder to make sense of our present civilization."
– Bill McKibben
"There are few writers who give us such thorough companionship and leadership on our life's path and our species's often terrible path."
– Sharon Olds in Orion Magazine
"The world is vast, and so are the heart and the curiosity of Barry Lopez. His voice is incomparable and necessary."
– David Quammen
"In his intensity, his clarity, and his capacity for wonder, Lopez is unmatched."
– Elizabeth Kolbert