A Song for the River

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What to expect

From one of the last working fire lookouts comes this sequel to the award-winning Fire Season―a story of calamity and resilience in the world’s first wilderness.

A dozen years into his dream job keeping watch over the Gila National Forest of New Mexico, Philip Connors bore witness to the blaze he had always feared: a megafire that forced him off his mountain by helicopter and forever changed the forest and watershed he loved. It was one of many transformations that arrived in quick succession, not just fire and flood but the death of a fellow lookout in a freak accident and a tragic plane crash that rocked the community he called home.

Beginning as an elegy for a friend he cherished like a brother, A Song for the River opens into a chorus of voices singing in celebration of a landscape redolent with meaning―and the river that runs through it, whose waters are threatened by a potential dam.

The ways of water and the ways of fire, the lines tragedy carves on a life, the persistent renewal of green shoots sprouting from ash: these are the subjects of A Song for the River. Its argument on behalf of things wild and free could not be more timely; the goal is nothing less than permanent protection for that rarest of things in the American West, a free-flowing river―the sinuous and gorgeous Gila.

It must not perish.

Critics Review

  • “In the style of Annie Dillard, Anne LaBastille, and Aldo Leopold, Connors interlaces all of these stories into a poignant plea for change—of our attitudes toward nature as well as to all forms of life.”

    Library Journal (starred review)
  • “Beautifully examines themes of fire and water, life and death, and wonder and grief…[with] sumptuous descriptions of the Gila’s natural wonder…This powerful work belongs with the classics of the nature writing genre and is equally important as a rumination on living and dying.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “A heartfelt, well-written volume of vignettes and reflections of a man who—much like his long lineage of fire lookout forebears—gladly chooses to escape civilization for the natural world.”

    Kirkus Reviews
  • “[Connors’] writing is pure, exact, compassionate, and often elegiac…I loved this book.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz, PEN/Faulkner Award–winning author
  • A Song for the River is nothing short of spectacular…Beautifully nuanced and written in masterful prose, this is a necessary read.”

    Alfredo Corchado, author of Midnight in Mexico
  • “A story of love and loss along the sacred waters of the Gila river, in the heart of the Gila wilderness…The book was a page-turner for me, lyrically paced and a real pleasure to read.”

    Doug Peacock, author of Grizzly Years

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