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For nearly a decade, Philip Connors has spent half of each year in a seven-by-seven foot fire-lookout tower, ten thousand feet above sea level in one of the most remote territories of New Mexico. One of the least developed parts of the country, the first region designated as an official wilderness area in the world, the section he tends is also one of the most fire-prone, suffering more than thirty thousand lightning strikes each year. Written with gusto, charm, and a sense of history, Fire Season captures the wonder and grandeur of this most unusual job and place: the eerie pleasure of solitude, the strange dance of communion and mistrust with its animal inhabitants, and the majesty, might, and beauty of untamed fire at its wildest.
Connors’ time up on the peak is filled with drama—there are fires large and small; spectacular midnight lightning storms and silent mornings awakening above the clouds; surprise encounters with long-distance hikers, smokejumpers, bobcats, black bears, and an abandoned, dying fawn.
Filled with Connors’ heartfelt reflections on our place in the wild, on other writers who have worked as lookouts—Jack Kerouac, Edward Abbey, Norman Maclean, Gary Snyder—and on the ongoing debate over whether fires should be suppressed or left to burn, Fire Season is a remarkable homage to the beauty of nature, the blessings of solitude, and the freedom of the independent spirit.
As Connors writes, “I’ve seen lunar eclipses and desert sandstorms and lightning that made my hair stand on end…I’ve watched deer and elk frolic in the meadow below me and pine trees explode in a blue ball of smoke. If there’s a better job anywhere on the planet, I’d like to know what it is.”
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Lynn on 09-21-11
Philip Connors left the Wall Street Journal as a reporter and worked for the Forest Service. In Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout, Connors presents a meditation on what it is like to live such a life of solitude. Along the way, the reader learns about the Gila National Forest, land and wildlife policy, and what is like in the tower. The book is entertaining and informative, but it is more of a meditation than a reporter’s notebook. Readers will catch a “feel” for the emotional side of working the tower more than technical aspects of the work. The writing just drew me in and the prose caught my imagination right away. The reading of Sean Runnette is excellent.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Matthew on 02-20-13
For What it's worth....
I think this book deserves more credit than some reviews give it. It's more than a meditation on solitude and its less of a political rant then people say. Phil Connors is not only descriptive enough to bring you into the Gila, but also gives some history and yes his political views. Whether you agree with them or not he's just stating his point and leaving it at that. The little musings are also interesting, everything from a high school graduates choice of beverage to Jack Kerouac and his smokes.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful