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Turn Around Time: A Walking Poem for the Pacific Northwest

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  126 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Reflections on life and landscape expressed in elegant verse By the New York Times best-selling author of Snow Falling on Cedars
Beautiful, illustrated package
Most outdoor enthusiasts understand the phrase "turn around time" as that point in an adventure when you must cease heading out in order to have enough time to safely return to camp or home--regardless of whether yo
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published by Mountaineers Books
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Average rating 3.25  · 
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Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
For several summers after high school, Seattle-born David Guterson worked on the brush-disposal crew for the US Forest Service in Randle Washington, with access to Mt. St. Helens, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, and "daily dwelling in the high country." In the 1980s, our poet taught English and composition and wrote the award-winning Snow Falling Cedar.

For several summers after high school, Seattle-born David Guterson worked on the brush-disposal crew for the US Forest Service in
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020reads
I really wanted to love this. I *love* the idea — a rhythmic walking poem meant for people in the woods, on the mountain. And while it’s true that if you’re spending several days with someone in the woods, there will be times you hate their guts, more of this book was dedicated to salty old man musings about his trail partner than I would’ve like, when the alternatives are the wonders of the forest. It was ok.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Might be better if you know a lot more words than I do. I felt like it was hard to follow and one piece of that was there were often multiple esoteric words on a page that I would either have to look up or just move ahead not knowing what they meant, and the context wasn't always enough to guess. ...more
Susan Lampe
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A book to treasure. David Guterson shares his love of mountains, and their trails through stories of mountain lore, poetry and incredible artwork. He leads us through his own introduction to the natural world influenced by his Uncle Henry Shain. He also tells us how poetry became part of his life. The title of Guterson's book and many of the poems lead the reader repeatedly to the haunting question of a climber--when to turn around on the trail. This is a book to add to your library, one to take ...more
Bill O'Neill
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm not sure what I think of "Turn Around Time" and that's probably good. I guess I expected it to be more like somethings by Gary Snyder, Mary Oliver or Donald Hall, but it's not. I assumed it would be about midlife or late-life, and it is. But it also concerns a hiking partner, who is hard to like, which may be the author's alter-ego. My copy is dog-earred on many pages which I want to reread and consider - preferably while walking - before re-reading the entire poem. I think that's a good sig ...more
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Solid PNW poetry. Gorgeous illustrations.
Christopher Matthias
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Turn Around Time: A Walking Poem for the Pacific Northwest is a different kind of poetry book. It functions like a long but segmented epic poem, with each section unique in its contribution to the whole. What delights is the imagery of the Pacific Northwest paired with both the common experience of outdoors lovers and detailed personal encounters along with internal monologue.

Some of what is challenging with this book is that at points the poetry grows more cryptic and it becomes challengin
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure what to think of this book. There are portions of it that are beautifully written and capture the feeling of being outdoors and really working for it. But mostly, the book comes off as the inner rantings of an honery old man who's sick and tired of hiking and is annoyed with his hiking buddy. I expected an exultation of the wonders of the PNW, a celebration of nature's beauty and instead got David Guterson muttering to himself about how annoying his companion is. I mean, is David Gu ...more
Kasey Lawson
Nov 11, 2020 rated it liked it
“Turn around time” is an alpinist’s notion—that preplanned moment when, no matter what, it’s time to reverse course and head back. The principle acknowledges an unstoppable coming darkness and the prospect of tragic outcomes spurred by hubris; it mitigates against both; it commits to the prudent; it speaks against enticement; it wells up in the pit of the stomach when a summit makes its siren’s call. All this to say that it’s fundamentally rational. Many narratives of fatality compel it. There’s ...more
Alison M
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this more than I did. I think if I regularly read poetry I probably would have liked it more. I was interested in reading it as I hike in the Pacific Northwest. All the poetry was beautiful but there was honestly a lot of vocabulary I wasn’t certain on, which made it harder to appreciate what was trying to be conveyed. I enjoyed the parts of it that I read slower. I would definitely recommend slower reading to other readers. Try to savor every stanza. It’s just a lot of stanzas ...more
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this but sadly I did not. If a person can have a close connection to a location, my heart belongs to the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., so I had very high hopes. The author describes this as a walking poem, rhythmically propulsive. The act of hiking the trail physically and as a metaphor for life's journey in text and title. The title references that pre-planned moment when, no matter what, its time to reverse course and head back. All the elements are there it just didn't touch ...more
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like many poems, the first read-through (which is all I’ve done so far) of this novel in verse is only enough for me to get a general sense of the meaning. I think a re-read, probably with a dictionary in hand, would be a great way to both appreciate and understand Guterson’s intentions on a deeper level. Even so, as someone who loves the beauty of nature as well as masterful navigation of language, many passages resonated with me. Like some of my favorite trails, this book begs me to return to ...more
Gregory Lamb
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Guterson's sweet compact collection of poems that connect the reader to nature, isn't a book that you can say you've ever finished. Why? Because this kind of poetry has style, memory, nostalgia, and a very strong sense place. I admit that I am not an avid reader of poetry, but I will come back to several of the poems that Guterson has put into the palm of my hand.

Though if I only had the choice to read a kindle/digital version, I would go for it. However, John Gibbens's illustrations are a trea
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Not recommended
Recommended to M by: local newspaper
It does seem the reflections of a tired, uninspired, foot-dragging hiker who has lost the joy of living in the wonders of the woods and mountains. Mr. Guterson seems to be leaning on fellows (none other), without sufficient attribution (weak acknowledgement note) - directly quoting lines without quotation marks and stanzas paraphrasing the ideas of stronger writers and poets. Weak as prose-poetry - neither evocative nor satisfying. Obviously, after Snow Falling on Cedars, I was greatly disappoin ...more
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Being a fan of David Guterson's novels I had hopes that this would be dramatic and interesting. Unfortunately I found it not so appealing. The introduction made it clear that it was written for hikers and climbers, and though I've done a bit that's not me, and it also made me a bit guilty I haven't done more exploring in my adopted Northwest home. The poetry itself became long winded and repetitive in form and substance. Maybe this was just not for me. ...more
Claudia Skelton
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
This narrative poem focuses on the author's journeys through Pacific Northwest mountain ranges. It is also a metaphor for how we are in the middle or later part of our lives. When we are on a journey we often realize that we have to turn around and then go back. The illustrations add to the book. I also think it would be worth reading again to better get a sense of the author's meaning from the very beginning. ...more
Sarah Boon
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I had a hard time with this one, which was doubly bad because I am reviewing it. I find it hyperlocal (Guterson names peaks and landmarks that only people well-acquainted with the Olympic Mountain region would understand, and he brings some weird mythical characters into his poem. I didn't really like it, but I can see how it would work as a book to take backpacking - in fact I wonder if it's better read outdoors. ...more
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it

If you love poetry, and you love hiking, you'll also love this really neat little book. It's a little "twisty" in spots, and a little humorous in others, and extremely clever in the way that it's composed. There are some references specific to the Pacific NW. The book is divided into "out" and "back" and I really fell in love with the author's cleverness, especially the last chapter/poem "The Crux".
Sugavanesh Balasubramanian
As other reviewers mentioned, I had a dictionary by my side all the time. I never felt so much complex about my vocabulary before ;) Originally, I planned to read this on a hike, by a lake or at the summit. Glad, I didn't do that.

I personally loved the pacing and the meandering thoughts in the second half. Easily able to relate to some of those verses on the hikes in PNW.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: hikers and lovers of the outdoors
Shelves: poetry
Beautiful, melodious stanzas of the hiking experience in the Pacific NW. Having hiked much here in Washington and Oregon, I could relate to the wonders and pitfalls captured in Guterson's enthralling verse. He captures the essence of the land, the wildlife, the effort, the weather, all that we encounter on foot on wilderness trails. Favorites, #5 The Weight of Windfall and #2 The Inner Amble. ...more
Egbert Schröer
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A treasure book. David Guterson is one of my favorite authors, in this book he shares his love of mountains, hiking trails through poem stories of mountain. What I also like is the the great artwork. He let us participate on how he has been influenced by his Uncle Henry Shain, how poetry became part of his life. However, for non native English speaker it's not an easy read, but worth the effort ...more
Donny Forbes
Oct 23, 2019 rated it liked it
From the author of Snow Falling on Cedars comes Rain Falling on Pines and Firs. Being poetry this may have just gone right on over my head, yet I still believe it is just a collection of incredibly boring and grey (pun absolutely intended) poems for the PNW.
Then again, I may just be an idiot.
Charles Bookman
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A narrative poem rich with Northwest imagery and hard-earned insight into the mental condition of hikers, especially Northwest hikers. This slim volume by the author of "Snow Falling on Cedars": is handsomely illustrated with simple line drawings of Cascade and Olympic mountain scenes. ...more
Melissa Croce
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
It's helpful if you're a PNW native and a nature enthusiast, but I'm only one of those things and enjoyed this walking poem very much, despite having a limited vocabulary and knowledge of some of the things that were referenced. The narrator's joy and wonder of the outdoors shone through. If you similarly enjoyed The Hobbit/The River Why/Alice in Wonderland, then you'll enjoy this as well. ...more
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book of poetry that will be best appericated by hikers and climbers, especially from Washington state.
Jul 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Hard to get into the rhythm of the poems when you have to look up may of the words. Once you do, you will appreciate it more. This begs a second read through.
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Liked the introduction and illustrations more than the poetry. Regardless, I appreciate the author's efforts and subject matter. ...more
Megascops Kennicottii
Mar 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
I have really enjoyed this author's writing. However, his poetry about an area and subject I have experienced did little for me. I thought his poetry was very disjointed and challenging to read. Bummer. ...more
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Oct 27, 2019
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Aug 22, 2019
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David Guterson is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, journalist, and essayist.

He is best known as the author of the novel Snow Falling on Cedars (1994), which won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award. To date it has sold nearly four million copies. It was adapted for a 1999 film of the same title, directed by Scott Hicks and starring Ethan Hawke. The film received an Academy Award nomination f

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