The Sylvan Path

Ferguson, Gary
St. MartinĚs Press, 1997
Reviewed by Renae

About the book:
Gary Ferguson wrote about his adventure of seeking out and interviewing people who made their home in the woods. His reason for doing this was because of a story he heard about a guy, Joe Knowles, who stayed in the woods and lived off the land for two months. Gary admired this guy and considered him a hero because he survived for two months without civilization. Then he heard rumors of people giving Joe supplies during these two months, and that he may have stayed in a cabin while he was supposed to be staying in the woods. Gary asked some of the people he met about this story and they thought the rumors were true and even had some proof.
During his adventure, Gary met with couples that owned cabin resorts or just lived out in the country with many stories to tell of their family. The couples tell of how they stayed together because of their love for the forest. They admit that itĚs really hard work to live there, but thatĚs part of what they loved so much about it. He also met single people who lived there and had their own stories to tell of their past in the forest. These single people were previously married, but then got divorced cause their marriage could not take the pressure of living in the woods.
Gary wanted to meet all these people because those that live in the forest know things that the rest of us have forgotten about living with the land. The one place Gary visited and really didnĚt want to leave was a guy named John Bishop lived. This place was without people, and completely quite, except on the weekends when there were parties for teenagers. This peacefulness is what made it so hard for him to just go on his way when his interview was done. The people he met had talked about how you can truly know yourself if you can be at one with nature. Any person who knows how they would react to a situation if left alone out in the forest for a while truly knows him or herself.

Some quotes:

"Things break down and you don't always have the money to fix them, and even if you do, it's thirty miles to town for parts. But this has always been my first priority. To live here. To not need a lot of things."

"It has to do with the fact that the only way to engender deep kinship to place is to stop struggling for it, to stop always seeking insight and be content to busy yourself in ways that insight might one day find you"

My opinion:

I thought the book didn't really have a point. It just kept bouncing from one story to the next. It didn't real grab me for excitement, it just kept going on and on. Even though I didn't really get into it I do have to give him credit for being very detailed. He was very descriptive, and I felt like I was there. I could see everything he saw and feel what he was talking about. Also some of his comments from the people he interviewed were very insightful. They made a lot of sense about how people really are.

Star Rating (Out of Four):star

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