"It's best not to look at the clear cut," Robert Leo Heilman writes, describing his grueling work as a tree planter in the timber country of Oregon. "You stay busy with whatever is in front of you because, like all industrial processes, there is beauty in the details and ugliness in the larger view. Oil film on a rain puddle has an iridescent sheen that is lovely in a way that the junkyard it's part of is not." Heilman's fine collection of essays, which gives the reader an inside look at the society of loggers, environmentalists, and people who never stop laboring while trying to survive, beautifully illuminates the details of the working life. Alternately joyous and heartrending, evocative of Thoreau and Whitman, these essays by a man who has lived the life he writes about, deserve to be read by a wide audience.
From Publishers Weekly
In timber industry parlance, overstory: zero means "clear-cut," or removal of all the trees in a stand of timber. Heilman lives in Douglas County, Oregon, the self-styled "Timber Capital of the Nation," a sparsely populated, economically depressed area. For five winters, he worked with a company reforestation crew, planting seedling trees at the rate of 700 a day. A high school dropout, Heilman had more than 30 occupations?logger, sawmill worker, roofer, house painter?before an on-the-job accident left him unable to do hard physical labor. He writes engagingly and with sensitivity about the life of a laborer, about the struggle of a backwater community to survive. Heilman looks at the blue-collar worker's and the middle-class professional's perceptions and prejudices regarding each other. This is a vivid portrait of a "marginal population" and an area in transition.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.