Cover image for Tigers & ice : reflections on nature and life
Tigers & ice : reflections on nature and life
Hoagland, Edward.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Lyons Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiv, 206 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3558.O334 T54 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Edward Hoagland was legally blind for three years until surgery miraculously changed his life. In this, his first original book published in more than six years, Hoagland serves up a literary banquet celebrating his renewed vision. With the penetrating and entrancing prose that has made him one of the most celebrated nature writers working today, he guides us along the full spectrum of a fascinating life -- the painful stuttering of prep-school days to the vagabond existence of his circus months when he trained tigers, from enthralling travels to Antarctica to settling into the luscious surroundings of his home in Vermont. Indeed, "Tigers and Ice" serves full notice of this one-of-a-kind writer at his powerful best, exploring his own life and the natural world with trademark honesty and grace.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Since his last book, Balancing Acts (1992), Hoagland has been busy reacquainting himself with the world. Legally blind for several years before surgery restored his sight, Hoagland expresses his renewed appreciation of and curiosity about nature and its "subdivision," human nature, in sentences that gleam and dance as brightly as sunshine on water. Essays come in many forms, some glib, some profound, and Hoagland is an undisputed master of the latter, writing with such precision and passion he transforms mere observation into a fine art form. "Nature writing is biology with love," he declares, and gives his readers both as he contemplates our precipitous and horrific destruction of the natural world, then expresses his "lifetime belief that heaven is on earth." Hoagland does, as the title implies, write of tigers, recalling his days with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus and his travels in India. And he does write of ice, vividly chronicling an adventure in Antarctica, but he also walks the wilderness within as he perspicaciously ponders the nature of suicide, cowardice, work, and friendship. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hoagland's (Balancing Acts, etc.) first essay collection in several years is a mixed bag, by turns celebratory, meditative, curmudgeonly and autobiographical. He poignantly describes his three years of legal blindness during his late 50s, when he couldn't write, friends dropped him and he courted suicidal thoughts, until two eye operations restored his sight. In another piece, he reveals that a stutter from childhood instilled in him empathy for the underdog. His exhilarating account of his recent voyage to Antarctica aboard a Russian research vessel‘a mosaic of natural history, personalities, exploration, penguins and geopolitics‘is a grand adventure. Close to jungle cats since 1951 when, at age 18, he crossed the U.S. with the Ringling Bros. circus working with tigers and elephants, Hoagland files a heartbreaking dispatch on his 1993 trip to southern India, where he witnessed the vanishing of species like tigers and elephants, shrinking wildlife preserves and tribal clashes. He writes affectingly of the rhythms of rural living in his home in Vermont; mountain climbing; writing as a form of creative play; his love of ponds; the challenges of middle age. While charting his trajectory from Christianity to Transcendentalism, Hoagland ascribes the roots of the ecological crisis to a man-vs.-nature duality that he traces to the Old Testament. Elsewhere, he condones suicide as a life choice and, in a tongue-in-cheek, misanthropic mood, hopes for "a new variety of the neutron bomb" that would kill people but leave behind the rest of creation. Notwithstanding such indulgences, these essays grasp life whole, shuttling easily from idea to memory to astute observation. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Hoagland (Balancing Acts, LJ 9/15/92; Heart's Desire, LJ 9/15/88), a former serviceman, firefighter, and circus hand turned college instructor, has returned to the same isolated rural Vermont homestead for some 30 springs to write and to observe the rhythms of nature. During the past decade he lost and regained his eyesight, turned 60, and traveled extensively. The tranquility and the turmoil have provided material for the 11 essays (all previously published) that comprise this collection. The most engrossing selections are travelogs on India and Antarctica, the lands of tigers and ice, respectively; the least compelling is a fragmented "journal sampler." All contain lyrical if sometimes melancholic mixings of Hoagland's observations of the natural world and his contemplation of his own singularly varied life. Recommended for public and academic libraries.ÄNancy Curtis, Fogler Lib., Univ. of Maine, Orono (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.