Restless Essays of Coming and Going
University of Washington Press
For many years, Ana Maria Spagna has stayed put, mostly, in a small mountain valley at the head of a glacier-carved lake. “You’re so lucky to live there,” people say. She is lucky. But she is also restless. In Uplake she takes road trips, flies to distant cities, fantasizes about other people’s lives, and then returns home again to muse on rootedness, yearning, commitment, ambition, wonder, and love. These engaging, reflective essays celebrate the richness of it all: winter floods and summer fires, the roar of a chainsaw and a fiddle in the wilderness, long hikes and open-water swims, an injured bear, a lost wedding ring, and a tree in the middle of a river. Uplake reminds us to love what we have while encouraging us to still imagine what we want.
RELATED TOPICS: Biography, Memoirs & Letters
Uplake stands out for its honesty, accessibility, willingness to dig deep in contemplation, and well-wrought essays about the small self in a large world.
Rarely can you say with a shard of truth that you remember the first time a writer’s work hit you in the head and the heart with a nearly audible slap, but I remember the first time I read a passage from Ana Maria—it was in a magazine in which all the other stuff was careful and remote and only news, and her essay was sharp and blunt and had mud and sawdust in it. I remember that. I learned from her essay, yes, but it wasn’t just information; I could smell the place she was writing about, I could feel her sinewy flinty impatient passion for it.
These vivid essays are powerfully rooted in the physical landscape and the body’s capacities and limitations. Nature and narrator perform a graceful dance of advance-and-retreat, a pas de deux filled with tenderness, wisdom and rueful insight.
A quintessential collection of place-based personal essays, as well as a moving evocation of the Stehekin Valley. Uplake is, above all, a self-portrait of an engaged, lively mind.
Ana Maria Spagna is the author of several books, including Reclaimers and Potluck: Community on the Edge of Wilderness. She lives in Stehekin, Washington.
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