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Paradise Wild

Reimagining American Nature

David Oates

6 × 9 inches. 320 pages.

2003. ISBN 978-0-87071-553-2. Paperback, $21.95.

As a lifelong mountaineer and reader of nature literature, as a scholar, as a descendant of naturalist William Bartram, and as a gay ex-Baptist who took to the mountains to test his masculinity, David Oates has thought deeply about how nature and culture interact in our lives.

In this lively, genre-hopping book, Oates tells stories, explores the literature of nature, and analyzes how the misapplied myth of Eden has mired Americans in a hopeless "Paradise Lost" mentality that belies the true, ever-present wildness in our lives. Paradise Wild will move and provoke readers, at the same time that it contributes to the ongoing debate over the meanings of "nature" and "wilderness."

Oates argues that mourning for a lost paradise is a dead end that cannot help us combat the real damage we're doing to ourselves and the rest of the world. He proposes a healthy re-mythologizing of the Eden story as a way of celebrating "wildness"- the Eden in each moment and in each cell, that cannot be lost. His book is about welcoming that wildness into the midst of daily life.

Readers interested in how we think about nature-in ecological politics, environmental literature and philosophy, nature writing, cultural studies, and queer studies-will welcome this bold and original new work.

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