BOOKS: Sketchbook

Barry Lopez explores the edges of the natural world

Barry Lopez is best known for two wonderfully instructive non-fiction books that explore the troubled boundaries between civilization and nature, Of Wolves and Men and Arctic Dreams. Their substance is scholarly and reflective (he won the 1986 National Book Award for Dreams), but it is their tone -- highly colored, moody, elegiac -- that speaks unforgettably to de-natured urbanites. And, it could be added, that causes some wildlife biologists to roll their eyes.

The title of his brief new work, Field Notes (Knopf; 159 pages; $20), evokes science, but what Lopez offers instead are a dozen fictional sketches from his staked-out...

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