Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A New Favorite Author

Scott Huler lives in Raleigh (though he had the misfortune of being born in Ohio). He's worked and written for the Raleigh News & Observer and done on-air commentaries for "All Things Considered" on National Public Radio. "All Things Considered" is kind of the perfect venue for Huler, since he's a journalistic polymath, writing on everything from the Cleveland Browns football team, to NASCAR, to the ancient world. I just devoured his two most recent books and highly recommend him for his research, his way with words, and his sense of humor:

"Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale and How a 19th-Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry" (2005). When a friend pressed this book on me, I wasn't too thrilled. What a strange topic for a book! But then I started reading, and it was right down my alley for delving into natural history and the way our ancestors successfully made sense of natural phenomena way before Google answered all our questions. I liked Huler's style so much, I immediately got hold of his most recent book...

"No Man's Lands: One Man's Odyssey Through The Odyssey" (2008). This is essentially a travelogue of Huler's funny-odd decision to go everywhere the ancient Ulysses went on his disastrous (but ultimately successful) journey home to Ithaca after the Trojan War, and to try to learn on his own what Ulysses might have learned. This thing turns into a moving essay on middle-agedness for the human male and gave me a new piece of wisdom to live by: "If you really want to get in charge ... master not your enemy but your ego."

Huler will have a new book, "On the Grid" (about infrastructure, of all things), out in May. Can't wait to see how he unpacks the interstate highway system, not to mention all those high-tension wires coming into every home. He has his own website, which is well worth exploring (particularly because it includes photos he took on his personal odyssey that Crown Publishers did not see fit to include in the book).

No comments: