“Encounters with Florida’s Endangered Wildlife,” by Doug Alderson. University Press of Florida. 192 pages. $24.95.
Doug Alderson’s fourteen brief chapters are attractively crafted personal essays that introduce readers to the intricate world of wild Florida, particularly as it exists in the panhandle part of the state. We learn about the creatures who live there, whether native or immigrant, large as a bear or manatee, or small as a salamander or mussel. We also learn that most of these animals are threatened, and that more often than not it is human activity that poses the threat.
Mr. Alderson mixes awe, affection, and education in these remarkably well-turned essays, which often blossom into a powerful lyricism. Many passages from his book could be excerpted and presented as prose poems. We can only hope that these passages are not elegies.
The general pattern of the essays is one of Mr. Alderson taking us on a journey into the Florida wilderness, sometimes alone and sometimes with a companion. There is usually a destination and specific focus for the journey, such as seeking the elusive, if not extinct, ivory-bill woodpecker, or searching for black bear dens. Such sections have a strong narrative dimension and even a bit of suspense.
Other sections are more expository and fact-based, and yet others are simply in the service of joyous beholding and belonging. Doug Alderson captures so well the healing expressiveness of nature’s beauty and wonder. Often, the tone of his prose is uplifting, reverent, and worshipful.
To view the entire review, as it appears in the June 9-15, 2010 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and in the June 24-June 30 Naples Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – Doug Alderson.