Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say
About John T Price


Daddy Long Legs: The Natural Education of a Father
Copyright © 2013
by John T Price

If David Sedaris and Annie Dillard had a literary love child and raised him in Iowa, he would write like this. — The Iowan

John Price has a precious ability to distill — gently, scrupulously — the heroism and beauty from his ordinary life in an ordinary place in the middle of America. Daddy Long Legs is an everymanís tale demonstrating the upside of Tolstoyís famous line: happy families are all alike. Thank goodness for gifted storytellers who can depict the good luck and hard work of being a member of one of those families. — Kurt Andersen, author of True Believers and host of Studio 360

Like Americaís best essayists — think E.B. White — John Priceís side-splitting stories about his family develop in their own time into heart-rending reflections on living and dying, and why living must be whole-hearted if it is to be anything at all, and why dying can be as beautiful as an emerging moth. — Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Wild Comfort

This gentle, ingenuous, and funny memoir of a flawed father is as Midwestern as the Loess Hills, and as universal as family itself. From worms to wings, mantids to spiders, dads to kids, John Price parses the natural history of a human family in all its mortality and wider habitat as well as anyone Iíve read in years. —p; Robert Michael Pyle, author of The Thunder Tree and Mariposa Road

Filled with grace, deep compassion, and the necessary consolation of the natural world, John Priceís Daddy Long Legs is a wise and articulate portrait of family and fatherhood. If this book had wings, it would settle gently onto your chest, just above the heart. — Dinty W. Moore, author of The Mindful Writer

John Price has long been the funniest man in the nature business. Now he's gotten personal and invited us into the fascinating ecosystem that is his family, a world of bugs and woodchucks, children and parents. With his characteristic wit, and a little wisdom, too, he weaves family and nature into a beautiful and inspiring story of growth. — David Gessner, author of Return of the Osprey

In the "no-kill zone" surrounding John Priceís house and yard, his kids attach freely and fiercely to bugs, tadpoles, and guy dolls. What he and his wife are really creating is a no-kill zone for the heart. Read this funny, wrenching testimony on the doubts, humiliations, and joys of committed fatherhood as you would any fine literature. But read it also as a manual on how to unearth, then build upon, your own foundations in family and place. — Julene Bair, author of One Degree West: Reflections of a Plainsdaughter

When Dante wandered lost in a dark wood midway through the journey of life, he was led back onto the path by the poet Virgil. John Price was led out of his own dark wood by less famous guides — his rambunctious sons, his patient wife, a wise grandmother, countless wild creatures, and the Midwestern prairie. With grace and wit, he tells in these pages the story of how the love of people and land restored his sense of purpose, his courage in the face of loss, and his joy in living. It is an ancient story, made fresh. — Scott Russell Sanders, author of Earth Works: New & Selected Essays

Man Killed by Pheasant
and Other Kinships
Copyright © 2008
by John T Price
Da Capo/Perseus P

Grounded in place, in the great grasslands of the Midwest, John Priceís large-hearted memoir is nevertheless a story that knows no boundaries. Kinship is the thread that runs throughout, with creatures in his back yard and in the wild, with Swedish ancestors, with neighbors, with the Midwestern prairies, and with his wife and children. Often smiling at the earthy absurdities of ordinary life, and at other moments resonant with both joy and sorrow, Man Killed by Pheasant bears poignant witness to the bonds that link us all. — from the publisher

[John Price] softly reveals the humor and uncertainty of youth and parenthood; the clarity of his nature writing exhibits the strength he finds in the ancient patterns of migratory birds and the flexibility of the Missouri River. Beyond his elegantly styled memoir, Price achieves a rich biographical portrait of the rural Midwest — its cultural and natural terrain — creating a character from the profound flatness of the region with as much life as he finds in his grandparents and children. — Booklist, starred review

Whether he is writing about fatherhood, or marriage, or gardening, or snow geese, readers will be captivated by his honest and funny search for meaning, for belonging, for home. — The Boston Globe

John Price writes with exceptional lucidity, humor and wisdom about his unexceptional — and exemplary — American life. I spent my own youth in this very region, and I donít know a better or more charming prose distillation of its sweet, homely beauty and melancholy. Man Killed by PheasantÖis a perfect non-fiction companion to the stories of Garrison Keillor and the movies of Alexander Payne. — Kurt Andersen, author of Heyday and host of NPRís Studio 360.

Price's memoir will resonate not only with those of us who have Midwestern roots but with anyone who relishes a walk in the woods or a witty turn of phrase. Savor this book, itís a delight. — Lisa Renstrom, former President, Sierra Club

Not Just Any Land:
A Personal and Literary Journey
into the American Grasslands
Copyright © 2004
by John T Price
U of Nebraska P

Though he'd lived in Iowa all his life, the allure of the prairie had somehow eluded John Price — until, after a catastrophic flood, a brief glimpse of native wildlife suddenly brought his surroundings home to him. Not Just Any Land is a memoir of Price's rediscovery of his place in the American landscape and of his search for a new relationship to the life of the prairie — that once immense and beautiful wilderness of grass now so depleted and damaged as to test even the deepest faith. Price's journey toward a conscious commitment to place takes him to some of America's largest remaining grasslands and brings him face to face with a troubling, but also hopeful, personal and environmental legacy. It also leads him through the region's literature and into conversations with contemporary nature writers — Linda Hasselstrom, Dan O'Brien, William Least Heat-Moon, and Mary Swander — who have devoted themselves to living in, writing about, and restoring the grasslands. Among these authors Price observes how a commitment to the land can spring from diverse sources, for instance, the generational weight of a family ranch, the rites of wildlife preservation, the "deep maps" of ancestral memory, and the imperatives of a body inflicted with environmental illness. The resulting narrative is an innovative blend of memoir, nature writing, and literary criticism that bears witness to the essential bonds between spirit, art, and earth. — from the publisher

John Price finds his way to the heart of the grasslands that our ancestors called the great inland sea. Riding and listening and reading along with him, we learn not only about the prairie, we also learn how to be at home in our own place. — Scott Russell Sanders, author of Hunting for Hope

Price's considerable wisdom and poetic vision spring from both the prairie and great prairie books. With nature as his compass and literature as his map, he conducts us on a powerful journey not just in the American grasslands, but in understanding the relationship between our identity and the places that blood and history define for us as home. — Julene Bair, author of One Degree West: Reflections of a Plainsdaughter

What does a hot tub on a nature writer's ranch say about wildness? How does one begin to make a home in a ravaged ecosystem? French fries or bull fries? What can the prairie awaken in writers — including the author of this marvelous pilgrimage? These and other questions help John Price avoid the usual paeans and bromides that fill too much contemporary nature writing. Price puts himself on the line by showing us how he is trying to understand the place he's from — and where he wishes to live as an ecological citizen. Part of that process is visiting with writers who have made the grasslands their home. His dispatches from these encounters — literary and personal — can help all of us understand failings, desires, complications. And, despite Joyce Carol Oates's declaration that nature writers lack a sense of humor, John Price gives us moments of genuine, self-deprecating humor, which, in his hands, is also wisdom. — Christopher Cokinos, author of Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds.

Price is a gifted writer. ... His journey leaves him transformed as it may well transform the reader. — Booklist

Price's insightful questions and sense of humor make the book's subject highly accessible and memorable. — Twyla Hansen, NCB Newsletter

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