We’ve all read books that changed our lives but one college professor gets more than he bargains for when he picks up a dusty, dog-eared copy of the American classic Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
Proud postmodern consumer and card-carrying member of the “I Hate Nature” Club, Michael Gurnow is content in his role as American literature professor at a Midwest college. Everything changes once he gets done reading Thoreau’s masterpiece. Realizing he has been living a life of quiet desperation, it suddenly occurs to him that even though it’s his job to teach tales of other people’s adventures, he hasn’t lived any of his own.
Without a second thought, Gurnow hands in his resignation before driving to the nearest state park and applies to be the wilderness equivalent of a construction worker. “How hard can trail maintenance be?” he asks himself. “It’s a minimum-wage job.”
He quickly learns there’s a difference between book smarts and common sense. In this mile-a-minute comedy of errors, Gurnow discovers why it’s a bad idea to get into a fistfight with a mudslide, horny hornets are a force to be reckoned with, being able to identify poison ivy is a grossly undervalued skill, and you can’t outrun deer–even if you’re naked.
With a tie-dye cast of characters, Gurnow compresses several hard-won years in the wilderness into four side-splitting seasons. With his newly minted critical eye toward consumer culture, he reveals the surprisingly complex world of trail maintenance while taking the reader on a guided, philosophic tour of the nature classics.
“Laughing my survival a## off page-by-page, Nature’s Housekeeper made me want to go live and work in the woods . . . oh wait a minute, that’s what I do!” –Discovery Channel’s Survivorman Les Stroud
Introduction by The Aldo Leopold Foundation; Afterword by Lawton Grinter, author of I Hike.
“Gurnow is definitely a talented author with creative jokes and descriptions that got genuine laughs from me. But this book also has a solid philosophical side, debating preservation vs conservation and why humans should care in general about the environment.” — Joanne Howard
About the Author
Michael Gurnow is a former literature and pre-law professor whose linguistic training was overseen by an active NSA language analyst. A noted environmentalist and film critic whose work Pulitzer-recipient Roger Ebert called “very admirable,” Gurnow’s award-winning writing spans such topics as national security, veterinary legislation, and overpopulation. His first book,The Edward Snowden Affair, was an international bestseller, while his sophomore effort, Nature’s Housekeeper, was dubbed “Thoreau meets Hunter S. Thompson” by Ron Dakron, author of Hello Devilfish!, and “intellectually profound yet outrageously funny” by Chris Townsend, author of The Backpacker’s Handbook.