Raucous Voices: Dave Talks to the Washington Post

categories: Cocktail Hour


        “For nature-writing enthusiasts, Gessner needs no introduction,” The Washington Post said recently. “His books and essays have in many ways redefined what it means to write about the natural world, coaxing the genre from a staid, sometimes wonky practice to one that is lively and often raucous.”

“Thanks, Washington Post,” I said back, overhearing. “That’s really nice of you.”

“No biggee. And you can just call me Post. Or Posty.”

“Okay, I’ll go with Post. ‘Posty’ is a little too cute for me.”

“I get it. But back to you. Where can people hear this raucous voice of yours?

“Funny you should ask. I have a couple of readings coming up and I promise they’ll be raucous. Or at least semi-raucous. The first one will be at the Half King in Chelsea in New York City on March 4 at 7pm. I’m heading up to New York with coastal geologist Orrin Pilkey. Orrin and visited the city three years ago and he predicted what would happen during a big storm, calling the flooding right down to the right subway stations. We’re going to travel up the coast to examine the Sandy damage.”

“So it’s kind of a ‘Return of the Prophet’ thing.”

“Exactly, Posty.”

“I thought you were going to go with just ‘Post.’”

“I don’t know. Posty suddenly felt right so I went with it.”


“I had a chapter about that earlier Pilkey visit in my book, The Tarball Chronicles. It’s kind of strange but while that book got lots of coverage all over the country, there was not a peep in New York, the city whose drowning it described.”

“You sound bitter.”

“Not bitter exactly. Bemused.”

“And what about the other reading?”

“After New York, I’m heading up to Boston. We have this annual meeting of writers and it’s there this year. It’s usually a crazy scene—thousands of writers. A few years ago in Denver I walked into the convention hotel at one-thirty in the morning and there were hundreds of writers milling around, drinking of course. I walked up to the bartender, who was cleaning up, and asked him if this was unusual. I figure he’d say ‘no’ since the hotel hosted conventions all year long. Lawyer conventions, plumber conventions, etcetera.”

“And what did he say?”

“He said ‘This is very, very unusual.’”

“So writers drink a lot, eh?”

“You got it, Posty.”

“And your reading?”

“Oh, yeah. It’s on March 7th at 7 pm at the Shattuck Visitor’s Center on the Fenway, just a 15-minute walk from the Hynes Convention Center. There are a bunch of other great readers. And guess what it’s called?”

“Wild Lives/Raucous Pens.”

“Raucous again! Did you get that from us?”

“Nope one of the other people hosting the reading came up with it, Simmons Buntin of Terrain.org  The other host is Kate Miles and her magazine Hawk and Handsaw. Kate’s a great writer, though only occasionally raucous (and she’s got a new book, too). Oh, and I should mention the final host: the magazine I edit, Ecotone.”

“Shit you must be busy.”

“Yup, But I thought you couldn’t swear.”

“I’m off-duty.”

“Well, let me tell you about the other readers. There’s Cheryl St. Germain, Derek Sheffield, Cynthia Huntington, Joe Wilkins, Lauren Eggert-Crowe, and Bill Roorbach.”

“Roorbach….that name sounds familiar?”

“Ya, you gave him a great review about two months ago.”

“You’re pretty clever, aren’t you?  The way you slip in all these little plugs and links and what not.”

“It’s the modern world, Posty. Get used to it.”

  1. Vasilios writes:

    Please, Posty, don’t get used to it. Don’t modernize. Stay old and crinkly and ink-rubbing-off-on-your-fingersy. The Boston Phoenix just announced its closing. Portent of doom for the bigger papers?

  2. Bill writes:

    Great cartoon. Isn’t it about time you gave up writing and really went for the drawing? Just saying! See you on the Fenway.