"Horizon" by Barry Lopez

By Barry Lopez

Reviewed by Andy

ISBN 9780375708473

Barry Lopez has long been one of my literary heroes.

Desert Notes (1976) and River Notes (1979) were two early favorites. These two volumes, though short in page count proved brevity can be beautiful.  Arctic Dreams, published in 1986 won the National Book Award and outweighed all his other books combined.  In 1995 I built my house in Moab.  Being the only house on the street I decided to re-name my street.  Norma Court did not fit.  Instead I choose 'Querencia', from Lopez' Rediscovery of North America. You'll just have to look it up!

Now Mr. Lopez has published Horizon. No sub-title.  None needed.  This non-fiction collection chronicles Lopez' world travels (he's visited more than 80 countries) and comes in at 572 pages.  I savored each and every page.  Berry Lopez writes so well that each sentence is to be savored.  Each word counts.  Numerous times I would re-read passages of beauty.  If I used a highlighter, my copy would be yellow.

An early essay titled Cape Foulweather chronicles time on the Oregon coast. Using his personal telescope, Lopez ponders, "These images of timeless creation, carefully contemplated, might unfreight a depressed soul."  Later in his essay "Port Arthur to Botany Bay", he again describes the natural scene: "Animated by the color of the sky sifted through a haze, the bowl of our space rounded by flocking birds and birdsong trembling in the heated air, all of this framed by earth-like colors, I grasp in its fullness the lake Annamaria has brought us here to see."

Lopez, now 74, sees Horizon as his big fat autobiography. Many of the trips featured in the book took place 30 or 40 years ago. Only a modest human could write this book. "I should emphasize that there was a long learning curve inherent in all this sojourning. I've tried to be explicit about what was learned (or un-learned) or when, in part because it hasn't always been clear to me what changes might have occurred."

Surely, as I relished each page, Horizon pushed me to see my own vista anew. I consciously have opened my eyes and again am treated to the beauty of our lands, whether it be our backyard or across the world.


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