The compelling essays in Bernard Quetchenbach’s Accidental Gravity move from upstate New York to the western United States, from urban and suburban places to wild lands. In the first section of the book, he focuses on suburban neighborhoods, where residents respond ambivalently to golf-course geese and other unruly natural presences; in the second section, he juxtaposes these humanized places with Yellowstone National Park. Quetchenbach writes about current environmental issues in the Greater Yellowstone area—wildfire, invasive species, ever-increasing numbers of tourists—in the context of climate change and other contemporary pressures.
Accidental Gravity negotiates the difficult edge between a naive belief in an enduring, unassailable natural world and the equally naive belief that human life takes place in some unnatural, more mediated context. The title refers to the accidental but nonetheless meaningful nexus where the personal meets and combines with the universal—those serendipitous moments when the individual life connects to the larger rhythms of time and planet.
BERNARD QUETCHENBACH is a professor of English at Montana State University Billings. His most recent book is The Hermit’s Place, a poetry collection, and his work has appeared in a variety of books, journals, and anthologies. He has degrees in creative writing (SUNY Brockport) and American Literature (Purdue University).
"Accidental Gravity represents an important contribution to American nature writing. Quetchenbach’s wonderfully crafted essays are a lyric nudge in a new direction. The genre has for too long been constrained such that only the voices of those rooted in a specific place have been heard and canonized. This has silenced or marginalized at least one generation of contemporary writers who, due to the socioeconomic trends of late 20th century America, have never been able to put down roots in one, dear place. This collection boldly opens the door for an insurgence.” —Sydney Landon Plum, author of Solitary Goose
"A suburbanite by birth and a naturalist by heart, Quetchenbach writes eloquently of the wild world. The journey he takes is both lyrical and well-informed. A bevy of birds flocks through the pages, keeping company with bears, moose, old friends, family, history lessons and observations about the plight of Earth."
-Kristi Niemeyer, State of the Arts
"In a series of wide-ranging autobiographical essay, Bernard Quetchenbach's Accidental Gravity manages to capture the interplay of the natural rhythms of life, the cultural cadences of time, and the vagaries of change - both in his own life and in a more universal sense - that we would do best to recognize the inevitability of...In the end, he leaves room for both an understanding of and awe at the confluence of forces that draw us back to the same places - the places we eventually call home."
- Doug Hare, Mountain Outlaw