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Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River Paperback – October 31, 2010
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"the poet who attends to this river [is]... an insightful scholar,...a devout pilgrim, and an expansive guide as these home waters descend from the High Uintas through defining stories of family and identity."--Stephen Trimble --Back Cover
"practices theology like a doctor practices CPR: not as secondhand theory but as a chest-cracking, lung-inflating, life-saving intervention.... It's what you've been wanting to read."--Adam Miller --Times and Seasons
"...nature writing at its best.... a call for his people to wake up and embrace the stewardship required of them. And it is some stunningly good reading.....Read this book. It will change you."--Steve Peck --By Common Consent
"extends... beyond a particular creed or geographic area to address broader issues related to habitation and brings into conversation... theology and place studies." --Paul Formisano, ISLE
"What a pleasing book. George Handley has calmly scripted a place-based masterwork.... again and again, the writing lifted me with its precise similes or its able flexing of metaphorical muscle." --Jeffrey McCarthy, Western American Literature.
From the Inside Flap
"Handley has made a most uniquely compelling case for how the physical world--both environs as well as our flesh--provides landscapes in which one touches the divine in the most intimate ways. In exploring the watershed of his ancestors, Handley has articulated how LDS culture has compromised the health of the systems that sustain life, and in the same breath he has illuminated the Mormon stories and doctrine that offer possibilities for a re-creation of God's works, and indeed, our own souls." Amy Irvine, author of Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land
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Introspective to only the degree a humanities professor can achieve, I think the problem I had with the work was that if we were all to adopt our author's love for the river and outdoors, the spaces sacred to the author would quickly be overrun and much of the magic found in the magnificent solitude would be lost. Perhaps the natural resistance to having beliefs tweaked, this reader perceived a hint of an attitude that people who do not share the author's appreciations are failing to honor the maker of the world. I respond that it would be hard to share a wonderful kayak ride on the Provo River with a few hundred other souls and Mr. Handley would weep to see the San Gabriel River on any given weekend, with literally thousands of people and their cars turning the natural world into a parking lot. In order to foster and protect his view of the perfect world, the author is willing to make demands on others that they scale back things that they might enjoy--be it a fine home on the bench, a drive on a mountain road or a wide expanse of soft green turf in an otherwise arid climate. A minor quibble, yet a major problem in this world; how to bring the sacred to the masses without profaning that which we seek to elevate? To what degree is it justifiable to coerce others to act in a fashion that we believe to be beneficial even if our beliefs are not shared? To be fair, the author adopts the appropriate tone of encouragement--he would change attitudes by persuasion and honest concern--I appreciated that.
People build cities and communities--it's what we do. Historically they build them by sources of water--rivers. In my neck of the woods, Los Angeles, we have abused our poor river into a sterile concrete channel that is great for car chases but certainly inappropriate for an inspiring day of fly fishing. We have proved Mr. Handley's point. Yet, I can drive to wilderness from Los Angeles quicker than Mr. Handley can get to Kamas, we have tried and succeeded in preserving a great deal. We can't revert back to aboriginal lifestyles and we should be extremely careful about how we choose to impact the freedoms of others, whether it is their freedom to pursue their own lifestyle, or as the author notes, their freedom to enjoy the world in its natural state. Like life itself, the dilemma is complex and not easily resolved. But a healthy dose of respect for others usually makes it easier.
Written in a way that appeals to readers of diverse faiths, or nor faith at all -- other than the faith exercised when a dry fly is cast above a hungry brown trout --Handley's book is redolent of a fine day fishing on a quiet and private fishing hole. Handley's memoir provides medicine for the soul, best taken in small sips, to better savor the splendor of being alive.
Home Waters is an eloquent and densely thoughtful personal examination of self, family, the environment, community, history & genealogy; where spirituality & religion and literature are weaved throughout to show how all of these things are connected, coalescing into a collective guide to seeing and understanding the world more clearly, humbly, and charitably. For Handley, all these things are important and he uses all of them to help guide his thoughts on some of life's most deep and fundamental questions. This is a beautiful read, which I imagine will reveal even more insightful thoughts with a second and third reading.