Lookout for Philip Connors

Nearly a decade ago, Philip Connors ditched his job as an editor at the Wall Street Journal to spend his summers sitting in a glass-walled perch, 10,000 feet above sea level, watching for smoke. As a fire lookout, Connors follows in a venerable literary tradition–Jack Kerouac, Edward Abbey, Norman Mclean, and Gary Snyder were all firespotters–and in Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout (available April 5), Connors writes with eloquence and awe about his unusual job and the mythic landscape he watches. He will read from his book at 7:30pm, Wednesday, April 6, at Magers & Quinn,

“Philip Connors’s remarkable account of his seasons as a fire lookout on the Gila National Forest in New Mexico is enlightening and well-informed. The surprise in the book is the author’s willingness–his courage, actually–to examine his own naïveté about the natural world. His is a most welcome new voice.”–Barry Lopez, author of Arctic Dreams

“The life of a lookout,” Connors writes, “is a blend of monotony, geometry, and poetry, with healthy dollops of frivolity and sloth. It’s a life that encourages thrift and self-sufficiency, intimacy with weather and wild creatures. We are paid to master the art of solitude, and we are about as free as working folk can be. To be solitary in such a place and such a way is not to be alone. Instead one feels a certain kind of dignity.”

“What a wonderful book. Philip Connors went up to the mountaintop to serve as a lookout—and he has come down with a masterwork of close observation, deep reflection, and hard-won wisdom. This is an unforgettable reckoning with the American land.”–Philip Gourevitch, author of We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families

Philip Connors has worked as a baker, a bartender, a house painter, a deliveryman, and an editor at the Wall Street Journal. His writing has appeared in Harper’s, the Paris Review, n+1, and in Dave Egger’s Best Nonrequired Reading anthology. Originally from Minnesota, he now lives in New Mexico with his wife and their dog.

Details are here.–David E