Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape

by Barry Lopez (Editor)

Other authorsDebra Gwartney (Editor)
Hardcover, 2006




Trinity University Press (2006), Edition: 1, 480 pages


The author asked 45 poets and writers to define terms that describe America's land and water forms; phrases like flatiron, bayou, monadnock, kiss tank, meander bar, and everglade. The result is a major enterprise comprising over 850 descriptions, 100 line drawings, and 70 quotations from works by Willa Cather, Truman Capote, John Updike, Cormac McCarthy, and others. Carefully researched and written by talents such as Barbara Kingsolver, Lan Samantha Chang, Robert Hass, Terry Tempest Williams, Jon Krakauer, Gretel Ehrlich, Luis Alberto Urrea, Antonya Nelson, Charles Frazier, Linda Hogan, and Bill McKibben, this text is a composite portrait of the landscape. At the heart of this expansive work is a community of writers in service to their country, emphasizing a language that suggests the vastness and mystery that lie beyond our everyday words.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member bezoar44
This book is a wonderful surprise. It is a glossary of landscape-related terms, words with specialized geological, biological, or land use meanings. How exciting can it be to read a dictionary? But the 45 contributors draw from the pantheon of America's best writers and nature writers, including Grete Erlich, Jan DeBlieu, Charles Frazier, Barbara Kingsolver, Ellen Meloy, Luis Alberto Urrea, and a bunch of other folks I didn't know. The definitions are accurate, but also grounded in place and in literature, incorporating references to poetry, literature, offbeat history, and regional expressions. The entries are necessarily compact, but reflect the distinctive voices of their authors, making the book as a whole a kaleidoscope of lapidary style. The best way to read this book, I'm finding, is to open it at random, meet a reference to something new and beautiful, and jump online into an explore it further. While I'm reading a library hardcopy - and love it enough to have bought my own to keep around to reread - the book would probably translate well to digital format, even the lovely, spare pen and ink illustrations by Molly O'Halloran.… (more)
LibraryThing member gwendolyndawson
This is essentially a dictionary of landscape terms. I applaud the author's desire to capture and preserve American landscape language, and many of the entries are entertaining and interesting. The accompanying illustrations are also well-done and useful. I do not recommend sitting down with this book for a cover-to-cover read, but it is enjoyable to read a few entries here and there. Every American reader is likely to stumble upon some long-forgotten term that applies to the reader's own personal landscape.… (more)
LibraryThing member TomCook.cff
an entertaining collection of descriptive essays by a variety of authors that reveals our American connection to natural features and our environmental landscape.


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