By Katrina Schimmoeller Peiffer
Coyote at huge shatters the misperception that nature writing-works that appear restricted to expressing traditional awe, reverence, piety, and wonder-is a humorless style. during this very important and marvelous ebook , Katrina Peiffer finds and explores the comedy and humor lengthy neglected in conventional and modern environmental literature. Edward Abbey, Louise Erdrich, Wendell Berry, and Rachel Carson, whom the writer dubs "comic moralist," command heart degree during this learn. yet in playful textual interludes, the trickster-coyote of local American mythology look within the wings, roaming at huge in the course of the prose and poetry of Simon Ortiz, Ursula Le Guin, Sally Carrighar, and Gary Snyder, proving a routine analog of ways comedy and humor exhibit themselves within the higher canon of yank nature writings. vigorous writing coupled with a delightfully wily technique make Coyote at huge an enticing and enlightening learn for ecocritics in addition to scholars of yankee literature.
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Extra info for Coyote at Large: Humor in American Nature Writing
Tall tales were a particular, stylized way of screwing up courage. In fact, Kenneth Rexroth believes that humor (which at its best, he says, “has a savagery about it”) “is the most effective mode of courage” (“The Decline of American Humor” 374–76). The “masculine” or “savage” quality that has been used specifically to describe the frontier humor of the Old Southwest (Inge 5), the humor touted by Blair and others as the truly “native” style14—that style smacks of a house divided. Settlers had little sense of the ecological household they had entered.
The speaker says he was at his campﬁre with his dog in southern Colorado And this blonde girl came along. I mean that. She just came along, driving a truck, and she brought a cake. That was real Coyote luck, a blonde girl and a ginger cake (101). Because he knows Coyote, the speaker has a history to help him understand this crazy and fortuitous situation. Coyote stories are a touchstone; with them he can track his own experience. The girl says she and her family raise goats and make good money that way—and goats can even be well-behaved.
In fact, humor might not always issue from us, as Greig or Bergson would imagine. Our humor need not be launched from a perspective of human superiority or derision; it can be more playful and inquisitive than that, assaying a moral landscape that extends beyond human expertise. This is Coyote’s role, and it may also be the role of nature writing. Important to this issue is the fact that the anxieties of contemporary writers are different from those of earlier Americans. Whereas the plenitude of the natural world and its resources was once assumed, now we wonder about the capacity of the world to absorb our population, pollution, and consumption.
Coyote at Large: Humor in American Nature Writing by Katrina Schimmoeller Peiffer