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Field Notes: The Grace Note of the Canyon Wren

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  288 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
In this collection of twelve stories, Barry Lopez—the National Book Award–winning author of Arctic Dreams and one of our most admired writers—evokes the longing we feel for beauty in our relationships with one another, with the past, and with nature.

An anthropologist traveling with an aboriginal people finds that, because of his aggressive desire to understand them, they
Paperback, 176 pages
Published June 8th 2004 by Vintage (first published 1994)
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Contemplative and melancholy in tone, each vignette brings into focus a single character that lives 'outside' in some way - the hermit, the "old maid", the caretaker - outside of society, outside of the norms, truly outside and off the grid.

It's a beautiful and thoughtful collection, weaving in themes of nature and animals right alongside human nature. This was a perfect introduction to Lopez, and I look forward to diving into his collected works that now span several decades.
Ryan Mishap
Oct 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
This collection of short stories proves that Lopez is underrated as a fiction writer--oh sure, he's won awards, but his nonfiction overshadows the little gems he writes (see Resistance for an excellent book).

As the title suggests, most of the stories deal with people who are intent on observing, and, doing so, they fail to participate in the life aorund them; fail to live in nature and remain apart from it.

The second theme that emerges involves people who become disconnected from others beca
Dec 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Amazing short stories. There seems to be a theme in this collection, that the main character doesn't always 'get' the situation they are in, that they are distracted or can't see the deeper meaning to what's being communicated.
Jacquelyn Mccaw
Nov 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Let Barry immerse you in the worlds he creates through words…
Field Notes by Barry Lopez. Vintage Books, New York, 1994

Barry Lopez masters the art of creating a picture in the mind of the viewer in this fiction piece. His descriptions are so vivid and detailed that the reader can literally see the surroundings around the characters. Field Notes is broken into 12 short stories that bring the reader into completely different settings with each. There are common themes throughout each short story, h
Kevin Spicer
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Favorite line: "I departed-my body deft, taut-with a clear sense of where I should go: the route, the dangers, the distances by day. But then the landscape became vast."

Each of these stories speaks of how our desire to know, to analyze, to categorize, to enact some method of control in our lives is often overwhelmed by something emotive and infinite lurking within ourselves and the land. Moving into that state of unknowing is a movement toward consolation and ultimately, hope, while resistance t
Danny Hesser
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was the first book we discussed in a course entitled Literature of the Earth. I think it's the first in the magical realism genre I've read, and also the first by Lopez. I was blown away. Characters in each story are transformed somehow due to their interface with nature. Points of view vary, as well as the way Lopez tells a story. Several left me wondering about things well after putting the book down. I borrowed it from the library and took copious notes in a separate "reading journal," a ...more
May 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a book of nature essays, and I was very pleasantly surprised. It's short stories, and they do have to do with nature, but they have this magical element that's just enough for me. The book is many years old, but I'd say this is the freshest nature-type writing I've ever read. It's surprising and very well written and quick but not too light. I will definitely be seeking out more of Lopez's fiction.
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
I've read some Barry Lopez before but it's been a while. I was disappointed by this collection. It was one story after another with the same theme: arrogant materialistic intellectual has a transformative experience discovering mystical beyond-believable miracles out in nature. I love nature writing, but this was a let down.
Excellent. A great set of very short stories. A little of magical realism derived from nature, mostly animals and a few from plants as well. Overall the stories are about observation, listening and paying attention to the natural world.
Aug 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I don't read or enjoy much short fiction, so the fact that I even liked this is remarkable... I found the stories interesting, unsettling, enjoyable, thought-provoking, and will probably return to a few of them again.
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories, 2014
A memorable book, for the rare chance of reading it at an ideal time (!!) and for the beautiful unknowingness of the places, characters, and their quests. A perfect introduction to the writings of Barry Lopez.
Mar 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Beautiful images but not enough plot or character to really engage the reader.
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011, fiction, nature
I read this book in less than a day, couldn't put it down.
Keith Miller
Field Notes: The Grace Note of the Canyon Wren by Barry Lopez (2004)
Apr 05, 2011 added it
Sometimes it is good to remember there is a life outside of the screen.
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short book of short stories, all kind of quietly soulful.
Mary Cartledgehayes
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
I broke up with this book before finishing it, but I was pleased to wander within Lopez's scrumptious vocabulary for a time.
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Barry Holstun López is an American author, essayist, and fiction writer whose work is known for its environmental and social concerns.

López has been described as "the nation's premier nature writer" by the San Francisco Chronicle. In his non-fiction, he frequently examines the relationship between human culture and physical landscape, while in his fiction he addresses issues of intimacy, ethics an
More about Barry López...

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