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Sex and the River Styx

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  75 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Called the best essayist of his time by luminaries like Philip Roth, John Updike, and Edward Abbey, Edward Hoagland brings readers his ultimate collection. In Sex and the River Styx, the author's sharp eye and intense curiosity shine through in essays that span his childhood exploring the woods in his rural Connecticut, his days as a circus worker, and his travels the worl ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published February 18th 2011 by Chelsea Green Publishing Company (first published February 1st 2011)
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Hoagland's an old man reflecting on life and society. He's quite analytical and intellectual, but there are more than a few times that he slips into what seems to me to be knee-jerk old geezer territory. He routinely bemoans the fact that the Internet is keeping us from communicating authentically, and that cyberspace insulates us from understanding real Nature. I tend to disagree with these conclusions, but he does reason his way into them with conviction.

His paeans to his early days, roaming t
I love Edward Hoagland, who writes personal essays about nature, and human nature. My favorite of his books is still "The Courage of Turtles," but this collection is interesting, especially since, at seventy nine-years-old, Hoagland has formed some strong opinions about marriage, benefactorship, and the future of the planet. He repeats himself on certain topics but his travel essays are fresh. My favorite pieces are the first and the last in the collection: "Small Silences," and "Sex and the Riv ...more
Gaylord Dold
Edward Hoagland. Sex and the River Styx, Chelsea Green Publishing, Vermont
(272 pp. $$17.95)

Edward Hoagland is one of my favorite writers and a beloved figure in American letters. He is my review of one of his latest books.

Biologists worldwide warn that we are entering a sixth great extinction event. Songbirds are dying off, the great mammals are disappearing, as are forests, frogs and fishes of the sea, victims of human expansion, habitat destruction, climate change and the economics of grown. I
Rebecca H.
Edward Hoagland’s book Sex and the River Styx is a collection of essays about nature, travel, and what he has learned from life. He self-consciously situates himself as someone nearing the end of his life looking back and taking stock. This is the first Hoagland book I’ve read (which I got from the publisher on NetGalley), although I’ve read single essays of his from various collections before. It’s an interesting book and a number of things stand out about it, most obviously the quality of the ...more
I was excited about this book: the modern day Henry David, reflections of a wanderer, and observations of life. With four chapters left to go, I am struggling. Like Thoreau’s writing, this is not light reading. Often during the narrations I found myself pondering, thinking of the objective and consenting to the sage's wisdom. But, what I was seeking were the descriptive passages that transport you to another time or place, laced with resurrected ideals: the first chapter was exactly that -- WW I ...more
I feel bad giving it 3 stars since he is such a good writer. At times it is like prose poetry. I think the problems with this book are mostly poor selection and ordering of essays: the entire middle of the book is given over to a series of redundant, pessimistic, repetitive ones. The essays nearer the ends deal with travel, sex, nature -- these are much better and more interesting.

Regarding the central essays, all given practically the same name: "Endgame," "Curtain Calls," "Last Look Around" ..
When we were surly, and mumbling teenagers, my friend's dad used to regale us with a bit of verse that went: Speak clearly if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall. And although we mocked this for all it was worth, it has stuck with me.

Edward Hoagland is an author who carves words, and each essay in "Sex and the River Styx" seems to be a small monument to thought and language. They've achieved that quality of being things unto themselves, and not just words and ideas hanging
Kasa Cotugno
Hoagland's memories span a 60 years period enhanced by a poetic sensual writing style. During his early years his parents allowed him the leeway to develop and feed his insatiable curiosity, affording him access to mentors who informed him while whetting his appetite for knowledge and experience. The life that evolved was unusually rich, and these essays are redolent with description of first hand experience. He recognizes the importance of a closeness with nature beginning in childhood, but po ...more
I white knuckled through these essays, enjoyed the scenery of travel and ordinary observations from a life long lived. I stumbled over a few rabbit trails and exited to the dictionary too many times. Loved his stark honesty, recognized my fast appoaching life inventory, felt a sense of urgency to the ticking clock.
Leah Darrow
Edward Hoagland is an extremely skilled writer, but his essays too often devolve into the same ideas and topics. He beats the same drum again and again, bemoaning the destruction of the environment and the loss of biodiversity. These are important issues, but unfortunately they are rather less interesting to the reader than the scintillating personal anecdotes Hoagland too often foregoes in favor of further rhapsodizing on the merits of the spotted swamp frog.
Astute, thought provoking and an insightful tome on the human condition.
Unfortunately I can not add this to my count for the year as I didn't finish it. It was just too pretentious. The author tried to sound intellectual by trying to use a lot of big words and flowery language that just led to the flow of the essays being stilted and hard to concentrate on.
Kenny Chaffin
Very enjoyable, but style-wise requires some concentration. He tends to write in long complicated sentences and passages with lots of adjectives and adverbs. Good stuff if the style doesn't bother you too much.
David Kessler
Many thoughts from his travels about the globe but with the firm point of view from a 67 yo man.
Maybe a little too firm is his observations so leaves little to our thinking. I would rate it a little too harsh.
As others have said, Hoagland is a modern Thoreau. I recommend this book for anyone who is into that.
Good perspective on what to expect after 70 -- now that so many of us will have a chance to get there!
You're old and like nature. I get it. This book of essays was a big let down.
Nice meditations on nature, life, and death.
Rich Biggs
Personal essays by an accomplished writer.
It began wonderful and then seemed to sputter...
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Edward Hoagland (born December 21, 1932, in New York, New York) is an author best known for his nature and travel writing. His non-fiction has been widely praised by writers such as John Updike, who called him "the best essayist of my generation."
More about Edward Hoagland...
Children are Diamonds Notes from The Century Before: A Journal from British Columbia The Best American Essays 1999 Hoagland on Nature: Essays Walking the Dead Diamond River

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