Raising Wild: Dispatches from a Home in the Wilderness
By Michael P. Branch. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications/Roost Books (dist. by Penguin Random House), August, 2016.
This book of creative nonfiction explores environmental experience in the context of parenting in western Nevada’s rugged, high-elevation Great Basin Desert. Chapters combine humor, lyricism, natural history, and reflections on raising two young daughters in an extreme desert landscape. A number of chapters in Raising Wild have appeared in magazines that feature environmental literature, including Orion, Ecotone, Slate, Hawk and Handsaw, Whole Terrain, High Country News, and Utne Reader. Various of these chapters have also received Honorable Mention for the Pushcart Prize and been recognized as Notable Essays in The Best American Essays (three chapters), The Best Creative Nonfiction, The Best American Science and Nature Writing, and The Best American Non-required Reading (a humor anthology).
“Michael Branch has been an essential figure in western letters for years. Now, in Raising Wild, he brings us an intimate look into one remarkable family’s life situated deeply in their place. Whether writing of antelope or antelope squirrels, scorpions or daughters, Branch sweeps smoothly between downright mordant humor and stilling insight, through depths of fresh thought all along the way. His essays mean so much, I could enjoy reading them even upside down, or back to front.”—Robert Michael Pyle, author of Sky Time in Gray’s River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place
“This book is not exactly about wild landscapes but the life of a house-holding family placed out there with two verge-of-puberty daughters. It is about our daily reality, not our fantasy possibilities, and who knows today what these girls will have to say later? So it is remarkably interesting, lively, non-theoretical, and hopeful. The wild might be wildfire or bushy-tailed woodrats under the floor—not just to live with but to know them. Michael Branch’s book points forward, not back.”—Gary Snyder
“With Raising Wild, Michael Branch turns his sharp mind and big heart to the subject of domestic wildness—life with his wife and daughters in the high desert. Reading Branch’s prose is like attending a great and raucous party. A party held around a campfire in a secret corner of the wilderness full of intense talk, laughs, liquor, and deep insights. That the kids are invited this time makes it even better. A profound and moving book that just might change some lives.”—David Gessner, author of All the Wild that Remains
“At last! A home for Michael Branch’s joyous dispatches from the high desert, which I have long followed with delight. If you’re unfamiliar with Branch, prepare for your first encounter with a singular sensibility, bracing yet affable. In part a memoir of building a unique home in an extraordinary place, in part a treatise on cultivating, protecting, and loving the wild, and each other therein, Raising Wild is a wholly defiant, tender book bristling with spirit, intelligence, and mountains of laughs.” —Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn and Gold Fame Citrus
“I have long considered Michael Branch one of the true visionaries of western American literature–and here is further proof. This beautiful, often raucous account of fatherhood and (wild) faith takes us even deeper into his remarkable kinship with northwestern Nevada. A place where, through the “daily practices of love, humility, and humor,” we can all learn to be at home in this world.”—John T. Price, author of Daddy Long Legs: The Natural Education of a Father
“Not since Rachel Carson’s Sense of Wonder has there been such a lively and evocative account of intergenerational experiences in nature. Michael Branch’s Raising Wild offers breathtaking lyricism, sage wisdom, and big belly laughs in equal measure. Most importantly, this collection is a testament to the value of marrying memory and place—especially while in the company of those we love.”—Kathryn Miles, author of Adventures with Ari, All Standing, and Superstorm: Nine Days Inside Hurricane Sandy