Robert Root

Landscapes With Figures: The Nonfiction of Place

For some it is about travel, about plunging oneself into new settings. For others it is about being—and knowing—home. For everyone it is the sense of place.

This book is a collection of essays, memoirs, nature writing, and travel narratives that document the impact this sense of place has on writing. In locations as familiar as Cape Cod or Mesa Verde and as exotic as Kraków or Kyrgyzstan, thirteen accomplished writers of contemporary creative nonfiction share some of their most memorable work, disclosing how place alters our perception and influences our insight.

Taking readers to deserts and forests, islands and mountains, Landscape with Figures is an encounter not only with places but also with writers themselves. Each contribution is accompanied by a new commentary by its author discussing the relationship to place in his or her writing. The authors reveal the connections they feel to the places they write about, the role that place plays in the choices they make in relating their experiences, and the strategies and work habits that produce such writing. This compilation is simultaneously a wide-ranging anthology of the nonfiction of place for the armchair traveler, and a book about writing for those who aspire to understand and practice the craft, carrying with it the invitation to reflect on one’s own special places.

Authors in this collection:

Kim Barnes (In The Wilderness) on changing terrain in Idaho
Alison Hawthorne Deming (Temporary Homelands) on the territory of birds
Elizabeth Dodd (Prospect: Journeys & Landscapes) on a Colorado canyonland
David Gessner (A Wild Rank Place) on Cape Cod
Barbara Hurd (Entering the Stone) deep in a cave in Virginia
Lisa Knopp (The Nature of Home) on a Nebraska salt marsh
John Hanson Mitchell (Ceremonial Time) on one Massachusetts square mile
Simone Poirier-Bures (That Shining Place)on back country Krygystan
Robert Root (Recovering Ruth) on the Anasazi ruins of the Four Corners
Scott Russell Sanders (The Force of Spirit) on a drowned valley in Ohio
Reg Saner (The Dawn Collector) on a Colorado mesa and a Tuscan countryside
Natalia Rachel Singer (Scraping by in the Big Eighties) on expatriate life in Mexico
Deborah Tall (A Family of Strangers) on recovering the past in Kraków

Selected Works

“As Robert Root walks through the Wisconsin landscape, he reads the windblown hay field, the dripping green wood, and the crooked blue river with as much care and precision as the three writers he’s following: Muir, Leopold, and Derleth.”—Tom Montgomery Fate. “Root's celebration of pristine places is a valentine to a small region that inspired giants of conservation.” – Foreword Reviews
"With its multiple modes (vignette, meditation, photograph, ekphrasis), it subverts and redefines memoir, always asking how a person might seek to know himself within the larger context of nation and history. Robert Root's prose is a refreshing joy to read.”—Patrick Madden,
Creative Nonfiction
The best of the "Thinking Out Loud" series of essays written 1980-1987 for broadcast on Central Michigan University's "Morning Edition" program
This quiet, contemplative and profound book is a celebration of love of places from one of our best thinkers about love of place. --David Gessner
A contemporary writer explores the landscape of his new home in the footsteps of earlier writers.
An anthology of essays and narratives of place, with commentary by the authors about the role of place in their writing
“Root’s story speaks to the human quest for meaning and connection through narrative”
--Kim Barnes
This anthology is the comprehensive, indispensable introduction to the way creative nonfiction is written today.
Nonfiction, Writing
A "poetics" of nonfiction that is "insightful, informative, and immensely practical."-- Kristen Iversen
“a fascinating journey into the mind of the master”
--Kathleen Wildman