Robert Root


Essays from Postscripts are available online:

"Time and Tide" at the online journal Ascent.

"To Think of Time" at River Review/​Revue Riviere

Postscripts: Retrospections on Time and Place

Walt Whitman’s meditation on time is the undercurrent running through Postscripts, a series of reflections on finding one’s place in the endless chain of time. In linked essays, Robert Root ranges across American terrains and landscapes including locales as varied as Walden Pond and Mesa Verde, the mountains of Montana and the coastline of Maine, Great Lakes shorelines and Manhattan on the first day of the war with Iraq. Three of the essays in Postscripts have been cited as Notable Essays in the annual Best American Essays collections.

Rich in “all that retrospection,” Postscripts chronicles moments of intimacy and arrival in the natural world while also charting intersections of natural, cultural, and personal history. Whether revisiting the first European settlement in Nova Scotia or seeking out the sites of E. B. White’s life and literature, exploring the only old-growth forest in Lower Michigan or shifting perceptions at the birth of a granddaughter, Root offers readers a new perspective on the relationship between time and place, time and timelessness, history and personal history. If the past is prologue, his book suggests, the present is postscript.

“Root illuminates E. B. White’s “Once More to the Lake” in the same way jazz greats find a musical idea in a standard and make it their own; Root offers a rich and generous account of how a writer is transformed by and can transform great literature.”—Leslie Carol Roberts, author of The Entire Earth and Sky

“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, author of Return of the Osprey

“In Postscripts Robert Root takes you on a tour of iconic American places; the touch is deft, the conversation deep, and Henry Thoreau and E. B. White, like old friends, seem always in the next room.”—William deBuys, author of A Great Aridness

“Root’s thoughtful, leisurely essays provide an intriguing glimpse into the interior life of a scholar and writer deeply engaged not only with the physical world, but with the historical, literary, and emotional worlds that lie alongside it like ghostly photographic double exposures.”—Publisher’s Weekly

“Through his essays in Postscripts, Root compels the reader to share his sense of humility in the face of an ‘enduring and unchangeable natural order’.”--ForeWord

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