âSometimes,â Tony Whedon tells us in his brilliant new book, Drunk in the Woods, âI think there’s such a thing as an alcoholic landscape.â With such clarity Whedon tells of his close-to-the-bone experiences of gardening, cutting wood, and exploring the back country of northern Vermont woven into a lively, sometimes harrowing personal narrative, providing a fresh perspective on how âliving wildâ impinges on the mind of the suffering-and-then recovering alcoholic.
For much of his life, Whedon lived off-the-grid with his wife in a one-room cabin suffering in winter darkness and spring floods, drinking heavily and then making a go of it in recovery. An introductory chapter sets the tone for Drunk in the Woods. The Chinese poetry tradition of the sage tipsy on too much wine and too much Nature is evoked in âForm, Shadow, Spirit.â The bookâs main themesâthe darks and lights of backwoods loneliness, the transcendent clarity that drinking and sobering up in the woods providesâare developed here.
The book proceeds with thoughtful chapters on Emily Dickinson and Charles Darwin
folded into meditations on birds of the northern forest, animal tracks, and the metaphysics of
“Even if you didnât know that Tony Whedon is a superb jazz musician and painter, you could probably guess those facts by reading this marvelous collection of essays, for it reveals a musicianâs ear for sound and rhythm and a painterâs eye for imagery. And while the book is about being drunk in the woods, itâs also about being drunk on the woods: itâs both a moving memoir of Whedonâs recovery from alcoholism and a lyrical paean to nature that brings to mind Thoreauâs Walden and Annie Dillardâs Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Reading it, youâll find yourself drunk with delight.”
âPushcart Prize Winner David Jauss, author of four collections of short stories, Black Maps, Crimes of Passion, Glossolalia: New & Selected Stories, and Nice People: New & Selected Stories II
âTo read Drunk in the Woods is for me to keep thinking of Wallace StevensâsÂ idea of the poetâs world as âPerceived in a final atmosphere;/ For a momentÂ final, in the way/ The thinking of art seems final.âŠâ Tony Whedon isÂ nothing if not a poet, and his lyrical naturalismâwhich he so persuasivelyÂ and movingly relates to his recovery from addictionâavoids mere solipsism;Â he recognizes how small a vessel each of our souls is in the huge scheme ofÂ things. Still, our souls are all we have. These beautiful essays reflect (StevensÂ again) âthe mind in the act of finding/ What will suffice.ââ
âSydney Lea, former Vermont poet laureate
About the Author
Tony Whedon iis the author of three books of poems and a prize-winning essay collection. He is a working trombone player and the leader of the poetry/jazz ensemble PoJazz. Along with Neil Shepard, he founded Green Mountains Review. He lives with his wife Suzanne in Montgomery, Vermont.
Drunk in the Woods
Trim Size: 5.5 x 8.25; 252 pp.
Publication Date: October 9, 2018
List Price: $19.95
Distributors: Midpoint Trade/IPG, Ingram, Baker & Taylor.
Rights sold: All rights available.
Rights Contact: Dede Cummings,Â firstname.lastname@example.org
German Language Rights Contact: Oliver Brauer,Â email@example.com
NAT024000NATURE / Essays
BIO026000BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs
SEL006000SELF-HELP / Substance Abuse & Addictions / Alcohol