“It was on Cape Cod during fall a few years back, after the century fell but before the towers did, that I began paying a series of visits to the writer John Hay.” With this opening line in The Prophet of Dry Hill, David Gessner sets the tone for a quest that is both personal and transcendent. Like “Call me Ishmael,” this sentence also lets us know that we are in the hands of a writer with a strong grip on the helm. It’s safe to lean back and relax into the journey.
The book chronicles Gessner’s relationship with nature writer and activist John Hay, which began when Gessner approached Hay, then in his 80s, to interview him for a biography. As they talk and walk throughout the changing seasons on Cape Cod, Gessner is pulled into Hay’s ongoing dialogue with his place and its nonhuman inhabitants. What does it mean to know a place? Can human beings learn to get past our limited consciousness to coexist with other species? Is there any hope for our plundered, poisoned planet? And, yes, what is salvation?
Such questions are de rige... Read more