Falling Into Place

Beacon Press, 2014

falling-into-place

“Quietly powerful essays, weaving keenly observed insights into the mysteries of nature with those of family and community.”

“’It’s not easy,’ Catherine Reid writes, ‘to love a person and a place in equal measure.’ Love she does, however, as described in these intimate, lyric essays about the land and people around her. With the inside perspective of a native daughter combined with her outsider status as a lesbian, Reid explores such paradoxes as those that arise from harnessing wild rivers or legalizing same-sex marriage. Her fascination with natural phenomena—whether bird hibernation, the arrival of fishers in suburbia, or the explosion of amphibious life in the wet weeks of spring—is captured in writing that pays as much attention to the sounds of a sentence as to the rhythms of the landscapes she wanders. Ultimately, however, Reid finds herself having to choose between her lover and her home place. Solace comes from companions as varied as a praying mantis, an otter, and her hundred-year-old grandmother, while resilience shows up in the stories of streams recovering from toxic spills and in communities weathering floods and town meetings. In essays both sensuous and provocative, Reid faces the beauty and challenges of our changing world head-on.”

Blurbs and reviews

Listening for birds or following the riddle of a bear roaming the woods in winter; remembering a near drowning and the trace of her stranger-savior in spare asides; pursuing the nature of the “natural” or calling us to meet her in wonder and in activism, author-naturalist Catherine Reid writes with an uncommonly enthralling acuity and grace. A major contribution to the re-vitalization of the essay and lyric nonfiction short form, Falling into Place creates groves of contemplation in a reactive world. Gerard Manley Hopkins. Rachel Carson. Catherine Reid. Like the precursors whose soundings gorgeously echo in her work, Falling into Place invites a new kind of listening.—Mary Cappello, author of Called Back and Swallow


In these beautifully written essays Catherine Reid combines her homing instincts with an astute awareness of the ramifications of global events.  As she explores the way in which the local, in our time, must also be far-ranging, she also considers the inextricable links between the human and natural worlds.  Falling Into Place is a deeply rewarding book marked by maturity of thought and lyric richness.—Jane Brox, author of Clearing Land and Brilliant


This book will be savored by those who relish reading beautifully written essays about natural history and environmental concerns, as well as by readers who enjoy memoirs.
Library Journal


Hypnotically poetic— O, The Oprah Magazine


This is a collection of quiet moments, of celebrating walks in the woods and “deciphering a bird,” something Reid makes clear is a very good use of one’s time. — Booklist Online


Written in a direct, lean style, Coyote marked Reid as a sort of modern naturalist, aware of the harm that’s been visited on the planet by humans yet still attentive to persistent patterns of animal behavior: cycles of mating and birth, of killing and feeding, of flight and migration, and of dying. Coyote also displayed the author’s capacity for observing life and human behavior briskly and without sentimentality. The title animal served as the object of Reid’s quest as well as her metaphorical stand-in. An outcast and rogue, the coyote is poorly understood and widely reviled… As a kind of sequel to Coyote, the essays in Falling into Place trace a similar arc of return and discovery…. Reid’s enthusiasm brings to mind the works of poet John Clare and essayist Henry David Thoreau. —Rosemary Booth, The Gay & Lesbian Review


By the end of this collection, readers may wonder whether it might yet be possible to disconnect their ear buds, shut off their computers, and unplug for a while—and enter the wilderness with newfound appreciation…Perhaps a return to the natural world is what we need—a walk along the nearby river, alone. After reading this collection, you will see that river with clearer eyes and hear more plainly what it has been saying all along. —Jeff Wasserboehr, Massachusetts Review