MicroReview: Bright Shoots of Everlastingness

Paul J. Willis’ Bright Shoots of Everlastingness: Essays on Faith and the American Wild was an unusual foray for me into the world of wilderness writing.  A backpacker or mountain climber I am not—but Willis makes me wish I was.  His essays range from the jubilance of “On Being and Becoming a Mountaineer” to the bittersweetness of “Spokane: A Triptych” to the comedic “Inspirational Romance.”  In his softspoken, intimate style, he contemplates everything from the irresistible draw of a glorious mountain peak to its terrifying power, from sweet communion alone in the woods to utter isolation from community, from climbing to parenting to writing to teaching literature, from the “mental illness of faith” to the “mental illness of lost faith.”  Recommended for poets, preachers, and nature lovers —and anyone in between. Note:  I met the author at last year’s Festival of Faith and Writing, where he gave a useful and very encouraging talk.  Then in the fall, I learned that his house on the campus of Westmont College was destroyed in a forest fire.  I figured buying one of his books was the least I could do in support, but it turned out to be such a lovely book that I remain in his debt.  

Anyone else read this?  Do you read wilderness books, and if so, who are your favorite writers of the genre?

15. May 2009 by Mindy
Categories: Reviews | 3 comments

Comments (3)

  1. Thanks for the suggestion! Hadn’t heard of either book or author, but it’s going on my Goodreads “to read” list. We are backpackers (or at least were; haven’t done so much in recent years), and these essays sound intriguing.

  2. My guess is they will lure you back to the woods, Mark. And I think you will resonate at least a bit with some of his thoughts on Evangelicalism and higher education.

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