Essay Hoagland Nature

Essay Hoagland Nature-1
Gazing through the window at quaint North Summer Street, he added, “It’s not wild here.” Which is not to say he doesn’t enjoy his down-Island address.“I’m a block from the movie house,” he was careful to point out. I go to the Anchors [senior center] four times a week.

Gazing through the window at quaint North Summer Street, he added, “It’s not wild here.” Which is not to say he doesn’t enjoy his down-Island address.

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Born in 1932 in New York City, he moved with his family to New Canaan, Connecticut, after his father, a former Wall Street lawyer, switched jobs. “When you’re a small child it doesn’t have to be the wilderness,” he said.

“I think we had a couple of acres, but adjoining was a forty acre estate.

I just came back from an exercise class, and I go to a poetry group on Thursdays.

I go to the Edgartown library for the free movies on Tuesday nights.

(Another followed in 1975.) And in October, he published his twenty-fourth book, The Devil’s Tub.

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It’s a selection of classic stories and previously unpublished novel excerpts that he hopes will be the definitive collection of his short fiction work. In his ninth decade, with a bibliography of books, essays, and stories that runs longer than most magazine articles, he gives no impression of slowing up.African artifacts line the shelves, and stacks of books crowd the walls – Forster, Proust, Whitman – making the room feel less like a workspace and more like a lovingly curated used bookstore.In other words, it’s cozy, which suits Hoagland much of the time.When not traveling to Boston or New York City, he lives most of the year hunkered down in Edgartown where he writes every day on one of two typewriters always at the ready in his office.(One was queued up, atop the washing machine, when we met.) He’s more than 58,000 words into his “Vermont novel,” which is based on time he’s spent in the state’s Northeast Kingdom, where he bought a hundred acres for ten thousand dollars in 1969 and where he spends the warmer months.Here’s a tip: If ever you find yourself in the position of dialing up two-time National Book Award nominee Edward Hoagland (which, conceivably, you could; he’s in the phone book), don’t attempt to flatter him by insisting that your father, a longtime admirer of Hoagland’s nature essays, novels, and nonfiction books, is his biggest fan.That title he will gruffly, if patiently, inform you, is in high-demand, and is currently held by Garrison Keillor, from whom he received an effusive note praising his 2001 memoir, Compass Points.And all number of creatures, great and small: the big cats he cared for in Ventura, the elephants he grew fond of during his time in the circus, and of course, his beloved twenty-two-year-old box turtle who could be heard through an open door scuttling along the shower stall floor as we sat in his Edgartown office. It is the sixtieth anniversary of the year in which he sold his first book, Cat Man, to Houghton Mifflin, and graduated from Harvard University (in that order).It is the fiftieth anniversary of his first Guggenheim Fellowship.Surgery helped, but his vision remains impaired.) “As I’ve said to him: I’ve been to Africa five times and I don’t need to go again.I’ve been to Alaska nine times, I don’t need to go again. But I work just as hard wherever I am.” Adventure is a way of life for Hoagland, though it wasn’t always so.


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