Lopez, Barry

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Barry Lopez


Born January 6, 1945, in Port Chester, NY; son of Adrian Bernard and Mary (Holstun) Lopez; married Sandra Jean Landers (a bookwright), June 10, 1967 (divorced, January 16, 1999). Education: University of Notre Dame, B.A. (cum laude), 1966, M.A.T., 1968; University of Oregon, graduate study, 1968-69.


Home—OR. Agent—Steven Barclay Agency, 12 Western Ave., Petaluma, CA 04052


Full-time writer, 1970—. Associate at Media Studies Center (formerly Gannett Foundation Media Center), Columbia University, New York, NY, 1985—; Eastern Washington University, Cheney, Distinguished Visiting Writer, 1985; University of Iowa, Iowa City, Ida Beam Visiting Professor, 1985; Carleton College, Northfield, MN, Distinguished Visiting Naturalist, 1986; University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, W. Harold and Martha Welch Visiting Professor of American Studies, 1989. Sino-American Writers Conference in China, delegate, 1988.


PEN American Center, Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Poets and Writers.

Awards, Honors

John Burroughs Medal for distinguished natural history writing, Christopher Medal for humanitarian writing, and Pacific Northwest Booksellers award for excellence in nonfiction, all 1979, and American Book Award nomination, 1980, all for Of Wolves and Men; Distinguished Recognition Award, Friends of American Writers, 1981, for Winter Count; National Book Award in nonfiction, 1986; Christopher Book Award, Pacific Northwest Booksellers award, National Book Critics Circle award nomination, Los Angeles Times book award nomination, American Library Association notable book citation, New York Times Book Review Best Books listing, and American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults citation, all 1986, and Francis Fuller Victor Award in nonfiction from Oregon Institute of Literary Arts, 1987, all for Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape; Award in Literature, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1986, for body of work; Guggenheim fellow, 1987; National Science Foundation grants, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992; L.H.D., Whittier College, 1988; Parents' Choice Award, 1990, for Crow and Weasel; Lannan Foundation Award in nonfiction, 1990, for body of work; Governor's Award for Arts, 1990; Best Geographic Educational Article designation, National Council for Geographic Education, 1990, for "The American Geographies"; L.H.D., University of Portland, 1994; Fiction Award, Pacific Northwest Booksellers, 1995; National Magazine Award in Fiction finalist, 1998, for "The Letters of Heaven"; Lannan residency fellowship, 1999; John Hay Award, Orion Society, 2002.



Desert Notes: Reflections in the Eye of a Raven (fictional narratives; also see below), Sheed, Andrews & McMeel (Kansas City, KS), 1976.

Giving Birth to Thunder, Sleeping with His Daughter: Coyote Builds North America (Native American trickster stories), Sheed, Andrews & McMeel (Kansas City, KS), 1977.

River Notes: The Dance of Herons (fictional narratives; also see below), Andrews & McMeel (Kansas City, KS), 1979.

Winter Count, Scribner (New York, NY), 1981.

Crow and Weasel (fable), illustrated by Tom Pohrt, North Point Press, 1990.

Desert Notes: Reflections in the Eye of a Raven [and] River Notes: The Dance of Herons, Avon (New York, NY), 1990.

Field Notes: The Grace Note of the Canyon Wren, A. A. Knopf (New York, NY), 1994.

Lessons from the Wolverine (short story), illustrated by Tom Pohrt, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1997.

Light Action in the Caribbean (short stories), Knopf (New York, NY), 2000.

Resistance, Knopf (New York, NY), 2004.

"The Letters from Heaven" and "Ruben Mendoza Vega …" were produced in limited editions, Pacific Editions.


Of Wolves and Men, Scribner (New York, NY), 1978.

Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape, Scribner (New York, NY), 1986.

Crossing Open Ground (essays), Scribner (New York, NY), 1988.

The Rediscovery of North America, University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), 1990.

Apologia (essay), University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1998.

About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory, Random House (New York, NY), 1998.


Desert Reservation (chapbook), Copper Canyon Press, 1980.

Coyote Love (chapbook), Coyote Love Press (Portland, ME), 1989.

(With Jim Leonard, Jr.) Crow and Weasel (play; adapted from Lopez's work of the same title), with music by John Luther Adams, produced at Children's Theatre, Minneapolis, MN, 1993.

Vintage Lopez (fiction and nonfiction selections), Vintage Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Also author of catalog essays for painter Alan Magee, 1990, potter Richard Rowland, 1997, and mask maker Lillian Pitt, 1999. Author of "Disturbing the Night," a short story included on CD Dark Wood by David Darling, ECM Records. Collaborator with photographer Frans Lanting on large-format calendars, BrownTrout Publishers, 1994-96. Work appears in numerous anthologies, including On Nature: Nature, Landscape, and Natural History, edited by Daniel Halpern, North Point Press, 1987, Modern American Memoirs, edited by Annie Dillard and Cort Conley, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995, and Writers Harvest 3, edited by Tobias Wolff and William Spruill, Dell (New York, NY), 2000.

Contributor to numerous periodicals, including Harper's, New York Times, National Geographic, American Short Fiction, and Paris Review. Correspondent, Outside, 1982—. Contributing editor, North American Review, 1977—, and Harper's, 1981-82, 1984—; guest editor of special section, "The American Indian Mind," for Quest, September-October, 1978; advisory editor, Antaeus, autumn, 1986.

Lopez's books have been translated into numerous languages, including Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish.


Composer John Luther Adams consulted with Lopez and others to create a stage adaptation of Giving Birth to Thunder, which was performed in Juneau, AK, in 1987; three stories from River Notes have been recorded with accompanying music by cellist David Darling; portions of Desert Notes and Arctic Dreams have been adapted for the stage by modern dance companies. Many of Lopez's writings have been recorded as audio books.


Barry Lopez is a writer with a deep commitment to social issues involving the environment, natural history, and humankind's relationship to both. Lopez's work has been favorably compared to that of such distinguished naturalist authors as Edward Hoagland, Peter Matthiessen, and Edward Abbey. Early in his career, he focused on natural history in a traditional, scientific sense, but as his writing developed, he incorporated philosophical content as well. In such works as Of Wolves and Men and Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape the author uses natural history as a metaphor for discussing larger moral issues. In his fiction, too, he explores man's relationship to his world. "A writer has a certain handful of questions," Lopez explained in a Seattle Review interview. "Mine seem to be the issues of tolerance and dignity. You can't sit down and write directly about those things, but if they are on your mind and if you're a writer, they're going to come out in one form or another." His award-winning work has proven popular with readers and critics. "For Lopez, nature is a religion, a source of orientation and inspiration," assessed a writer for the Los Angeles Times Book Review, while a New York Times reviewer stated that "Lopez possesses a deep, almost mystical reverence for nature and the land."

From Country to City

Lopez was born in Port Chester, New York, in 1945, but the family moved to California's San Fernando Valley three years later. Two years later, his parents divorced, and his father disappeared from the lives of Barry and his younger brother, Dennis. Their mother remained in California, working as a teacher and dressmaker to support the family. The two boys enjoyed playing outdoors in this pleasant, rural area. Their mother made a point of taking them on trips beyond their valley as well, driving on weekends to the desert, to lakes, and to coastal towns. During this time, he began to feel a bond with nature and animals. He once described this feeling: "I was mesmerized by animals and the other-than-obvious dimension of the natural world when I was a child. I grew up in a rural part of California, and I was around animals from the time I was very young…. Animals were very special to me." Lopez also enjoyed looking through the family's world atlas and planning extravagant journeys around the globe. "This early interest in travel and fascination with place descriptions manifested itself much later in his own writings, and his experience living in both rural and urban landscapes proved to be crucial to his development as a writer," commented Susan M. Lucas in Dictionary of Literary Biography.

Lopez was eleven years old when his mother married Adrian Bernard Lopez, who adopted the two boys. Their new stepfather soon moved the family across the country to live in a Manhattan penthouse. The change in lifestyle could hardly have been more dramatic, but Lopez adapted well to his new world. He attended a Catholic preparatory school that emphasized the arts and "cultivated a skepticism of authoritative ways of knowing—two traits that still mark his thinking," commented Lucas. He excelled academically there, became a letterman in three varsity sports, and was president of his senior class. After graduation, he spent the summer traveling around Europe with a group of classmates. In the fall he began his freshman year at Notre Dame. On the weekends he continued to follow his urge to travel, taking frequent road trips. By the time he graduated in 1966, he had visited every state in the union except for Alaska, Hawaii, and Oklahoma.

Beginning to write seriously during his last two years at Notre Dame, Lopez published a few short

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stories and articles during his senior year. He felt certain he wanted writing to be his profession, but he knew that he would also need some other means of support. For a time he considered entering a monastery, for it was crucial to him to feel he would be leading a life of service. But in 1967, he married Sandra Landers and returned to Notre Dame for a master's degree, having decided to teach. In 1968, they moved west so that Lopez could earn a master's in fine arts at the University of Oregon. As it turned out, he spent only one semester in that program, but he did get a chance to study with legendary folklorist Barre Toelken. Toelken had a profound influence on Lopez, introducing him to anthropological research and opening up his world view. His first book, Giving Birth to Thunder, Sleeping with His Daughter came out of his graduate studies in folklore. The work, which includes sixty-eight stories about the fabled creature, provides Lopez's English-language adaptations of oral Indian tales.

Describing the essence of Coyote in the book's introduction, Lopez wrote that the character "was not necessarily a coyote, nor even a creature of strict physical dimensions. He was known as the Great Hare among many eastern tribes and as Raven in the Pacific Northwest…. He was Trickster, Imitator, First Born, Old Man, First Creator, Transformer and Changing Person in the white man's translations—all names derived from his powers, his habits and his acts." Quoting early twentieth-century Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Jung, Lopez noted that Coyote "was 'in his earliest manifestations, a faithful copy of an absolutely undifferentiated human consciousness, corresponding to a psyche that has hardly left the animal eye. He is,' continued Jung, 'a forerunner of the savior, and like him, God, man and animal at once. He is both subhuman and superhuman, a bestial and divine being.'" The tales presented in the work provide vivid descriptions of Coyote's adventures, whether as trickster, jester, creator, or hero. The situations in which Coyote finds himself range from his building of the earth and universe, to his deception of others for personal gain, to his humiliation as his outrageous pranks backfire. Featuring the legends of a number of Native American tribes—such as the Menomini, Arapaho, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Plains Cree, and Nez PerceGiving Birth to Thunder has been acknowledged by critics as a comprehensive study of Coyote, complete with details of a sexual nature that are frequently omitted from similar works. Such depictions include Coyote's marriage to his step-daughter, his wife-swapping with a beaver, and his matrimony with a man.

In presenting the stories, Lopez tries to remain as true to the original tales as he can without violating sacred tribal customs associated with the telling. His success in this endeavor is described in the book's foreword, written by former Journal of American Folklore editor J. Barre Toelken: Giving Birth to Thunder "does not pretend to be an 'Indian book.' It does not provide the original language, the ritual detail, the full context; in short, it does not betray the magic of the actual storytelling event. Instead, the stories are retold in a way that is both faithful to native concepts of Coyote and how his stories should go." For example, in the Wasco Indian fable "Coyote Places the Stars," Lopez describes five wolf brothers who see two animals in the night sky and want to investigate. Coyote assists them by shooting many arrows into the air, which stick to one another and form a ladder from the earth into space. When the wolves and a pet dog climb into the sky with Coyote, they discover the two animals are grizzly bears. Initially apprehensive, the wolves and dog eventually sit with the bears. Lopez explained: "Coyote wouldn't come over. He didn't trust the bears. 'That makes a nice picture, though,' thought Coyote. 'They all look pretty good sitting there like that. I think I'll leave it that way for everyone to see. Then when people look at them in the sky they will say, "There's a story about that picture," and they will tell a story about me….' He took out the arrows as he descended so there was no way for anyone to get back…. They call those stars the Big Dipper now."

Giving Birth to Thunder is dedicated "To the Native Peoples of North America that we may now share a little of each other's laughter in addition to all our tears." Described by Toelken as a nonscholarly work, although it contains bibliographic notes for further study, the book fared well with reviewers. A critic for Publishers Weekly praised the work for providing a glimpse of the "lighthearted side of Indian culture." A Kliatt reviewer, observing the book's nonacademic nature, called the stories "vulgar, amusing, ironic, and philosophical." The critic further stated that "each short tale is delightful," providing illumination into the various forms of Native American oral tradition. A commentator for Choice magazine lauded the author's "clear, concise prose."

Shift to Journalism

After compiling Giving Birth to Thunder, Lopez quit graduate school in 1969, opting to pursue a career as a full-time, freelance writer. Taking up permanent residence in Oregon with his wife, Sandra, the author began preparing articles for a variety of periodicals, including the New York Times, Popular Science, and Washington Post. He also established a solid reputation as an environmental writer through his features for the Audubon Society, Sierra Club, and Not Man Apart publications. Initiating a long association as a writer for Harper's and North American Review, he also penned some original folktales and reworked Native American legends for issuance in magazines such as Northwest Review, Contemporary Literature in Transition, Tales, and Chouteau Review. His list of publications expanded during the mid-1970s and 1980s to include the New York Times Book Review, Outside, Vogue, GEO, National Geographic, and Life. Speaking of his choice to pursue a freelance writing career, Lopez told Douglas Marx of Publishers Weekly, "In journalism, to write an editorial, for example, you sat down at a table that had a typewriter bolted to it, and the task was to write in 600 words something that was coherent and convincing. And you sat there until you did it. I like journalism because it's a grown-up world—deadlines, responsibilities. Freelance writing forces you to focus on the responsibility you have to write cleanly and clearly. It inclines against self-indulgence."

A 1974 assignment for Smithsonian magazine led to Lopez's first major book, Of Wolves and Men. His research for that article "catalyzed a lot of thinking about human and animal relationships which had been going on in a vague way in my mind for several years," he explained in an interview. "I realized that if I focused on this one animal, I might be able to say something sharp and clear." In his book, Lopez attempts to present a complete portrait of the wolf. He includes not only scientific information but also wolf lore from aboriginal societies and an overview of the animal's role in literature, folklore, and superstition.

The result, noted many critics, is a book that succeeds on several levels. First, Lopez has gathered "an extraordinary amount of material," wrote a contributor to the New York Review of Books, making Of Wolves and Men one of the most comprehensive sources of information on these animals ever published. Second, in showing readers the many diverse images of the wolf, the author reveals how man "creates" animals by projecting aspects of his own personality onto them. Third, Lopez illustrates how undeserved is Western civilization's depiction of the wolf as a ruthless killer. His observations showed him that the Eskimos' conception of the wolf is much closer to the truth; among them, wolves are respected and emulated for their intelligence and strong sense of loyalty. What society thinks about the wolf may reveal something about itself, concludes Lopez, for while Western man has reviled the wolf as a wanton killer, he himself has brutally and pointlessly driven many animals to extinction. Whitley Streiber, writing for the Washington Post, called Of Wolves and Men "a very important book by a man who has thought much on his

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subject. Above all he has listened to many people who claim to know about wolves. In coming to terms with the difference between what we know and what we imagine about the wolf, Lopez has shed light on some painful truths about the human experience. By laying no blame while facing the tragedy for what it is, he has made what we have done to the wolf a source of new knowledge about man."

Arctic Dreams Wins National Book Award

Lopez found that he was strongly drawn to the Arctic even after Of Wolves and Men was completed. Over the next four years he made several more trips north, and in 1986 he published an account of his travels titled Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction that same year. While the book provides a wealth of factual information about the Arctic region, it is, according to a New York Times reviewer, "a book about the Arctic North in the way that 'Moby-Dick' is a novel about whales." In Arctic Dreams Lopez restates the deeper themes found in Of Wolves and Men, but while Of Wolves and Men focused tightly on man's relationship with a specific animal, Arctic Dreams's scope is wider, exploring man's relationship with what Lopez refers to as "the landscape." He explained to Jim Aton in Western American Literature, "By landscape I mean the complete lay of the land—the animals that are there, the trees, the vegetation, the quality of soils, the drainage pattern of water, the annual cycles of temperature, the kinds of precipitation, the sounds common to the region."

Arctic Dreams drew many favorable reviews, both for its vivid descriptions of the North and for the questions it raises about man's place in nature. "The writing, at times, is luminous, powerful and musical. Lopez infuses each sentence with grace," stated a writer in the Toronto Globe & Mail. "It is a lyrical geography and natural history, an account of Eskimo life, and a history of northern explorations," said a Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor. "But mainly, it is a … reflection about the meaning of mankind's encounter with the planet…. Its question, starting as ecology and working into metaphysics, is whether civilization can find a way of adapting itself to the natural world, before its predilection for adapting the natural world to itself destroys self and world, both." Lopez elaborated on the feelings that prompted him to write Arctic Dreams in his interview with Aton: "I think if you can really see the land, if you can lose your sense of wishing it to be what you want it to be, if you can strip yourself of the desire to order and to name and see the land entirely for itself, you see in the relationship of all its elements the face of God. And that's why I say the landscape has an authority."

Fiction Wins Recognition

Man's interactions with "the landscape" are often highlighted in Lopez's fiction as well as in his nonfiction, and his short story collections have drawn particular praise from reviewers. For example, in a Detroit News review of River Notes: The Dance of Herons, David Graber wrote: "Lopez delicately surveys the terrain of shared experience between a man and place, in this case a river in the Pacific Northwest…. [The author] has an unsentimental natu ralist's knowledge combined with profound love-of-land…. [His] writing has a dreamlike quality; the sensuality of his words, his … playful choice of simile serve as counterpoint to his precisely accurate portrayals of salmon spawning and herons fishing, of Douglas fir falling to the chainsaw and willow crowding the riverbank." A Miami Herald writer said that in River Notes "Lopez transmogrifies the physical characteristics of the river—the bend, the falls, the shallows, the rapids—into human experience: the bend as a man seriously ill for a long time who suddenly, for no reason as the river bends for no reason, decides he will recover. The falls is a strangely gothic convolution of the original fall from grace, brought up to date by a vagabond with mythic yearnings who ends his search at the high brink of the river's falls…. Lopez's nice shallows become deep reflecting mirrors, their images multiplying beyond ease. … Not since Ken Kesey's drastically different novel, Sometimes a Great Notion, has a writer so caught and pinned the mossy melancholy of Oregon." In his Progressive review, David Miller made the point that, despite the book's deceptively simple title, it is no mere study of herons. He wrote that River Notes "is about a small world of relationships among people, herons, salmon, cotton-woods—and all creatures drawn to this rushing, tumbling, powerful, and endangered emblem of natural life, the river….[The book] is a thing of beauty in itself, as tantalizingly real and yet as otherworldly as your own reflection on a river's surface…. It is a rare achievement; perhaps—I've never said this before and know that only time will tell—it is a work of genius."

A Saturday Review commentator believed that Winter Count, another collection of short fiction, is the book that will win for Lopez "recognition as a writer who like, say, Peter Matthiessen or Edward Hoagland, goes to the wilderness in order to clarify a great deal about civilization." Cheuse commends Lopez for weaving "a style reminiscent of some important contemporary Latin American magical realists" and for turning "the sentiments of a decade's worth of ecology lovers into a deeply felt and unnervingly powerful picture of reality." A Los Angeles Times reviewer wrote: "There's a boundary, no wider than a pinstripe, where fact and fiction barely touch. With so much room on either side and assorted areas where overlap is expected, few writers choose to confine themselves to that fine line where the two simply meet. Lopez is one of those few. He makes that delicate border his entire territory. Winter Count is a small and perfectly crafted collection of just such encounters between imagination and reality…. Lopez's observations are so acute the stories expand of their own accord, lingering in the mind the way intense light lingers on the retina." A New York Times Book Review contributor said that Winter Count is "full of solid, quiet, telling short works. Each of the stories … is as economical in design, as painstakingly crafted and as resonant as a good classical guitar…. [Lopez's] fiction is as spare, as pared down and elemental as the lives it describes, the values it celebrates. One of his characters says, 'I've thrown away everything that is no good,' and this perilously righteous algorithm seems a key part of the author's own epic."

Lopez revised a number of previously published essays for 1988's Crossing Open Ground, which includes writings about Alaska, the American Southwest, Native American culture, folklore, endangered species, and other topics of environmental importance. Showcasing Lopez's reverence for the natural world, the volume presents the author's belief that in harming nature, we only cripple ourselves. These writings also denote Lopez's notion that western civilization generally lacks the proper respect for nature, suggesting that many people are at odds with the environment. All too often, Lopez offers, humans fail to realize their kinship and relationship with nature—that they are a part of the earth. In Crossing Open Ground, Lopez is "a clear and patient observer," announced a Time reviewer. Proclaiming the volume "intimate" and "inviting," New York Times Book Review contributor Edwin Dobb suggested that Lopez's esays will "both delight and alarm."

In 1990 Lopez wrote a novella-length fable, Crow and Weasel, composed in the form of a Native American tale and illustrated by Tom Pohrt, an artist Lopez had met ten years earlier. "When I first came across Tom's line drawings, I could see that he saw animals in a different way than any artist ever had," recalled Lopez in an interview with Publishers Weekly contributor Michael Coffey. "I was intrigued." Crow and Weasel, the result of their first collaboration, became a bestseller. The story charts the adventures of two young men during a time when animals and humans spoke a universal language. In order to evoke this mythical time and place, Lopez and Pohrt describe the protagonists as human in the text and depict them as a crow and weasel adorned in Indian attire in the illustrations. A coming-of-age saga, the book follows the characters as they embark on their spiritual and physical journey—"to travel farther north than anyone had ever gone, farther north than their people's stories went." The work interweaves a moral outlook about the land and its inhabitants in the youths' quest to understand the earth and themselves.

In The Rediscovery of North America, Lopez charts the progression of environmental pillage from the hands of the Spanish, to nineteenth-century industrialists and twentieth-century entrepreneurs. He records the continuation of abusive treatment bestowed upon indigenous peoples, flora and fauna, land, and other natural resources in the name of greed. Contending that humankind needs to regain respect for the earth and all its inhabitants, Lopez urges readers "to be intimate with the land" and to "rediscover" its worth. "What we need is to discover the continent again," Lopez concluded in the book. "We need to see the land with a less acquisitive frame of mind. We need to sojourn in it again, to discover the lineaments of cooperation with it. We need to discover the difference between the kind of independence that is a desire to be responsible to no one but the self—the independence of the adolescent—and the independence that means the assumption of responsibility in society, the independence

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of people who no longer need to be supervised. We need to be more discerning about the sources of wealth. And we need to find within ourselves, and nurture, a profound courtesy, an unalloyed honesty."

In Field Notes Lopez presented a collection of twelve stories, completing a trilogy that also includes Desert Notes and River Notes. Critics emphasized the collection's portrayal of civilized man at odds with the natural world, noting Lopez's imaginative combination of elements of folklore, myth, and natural science. A writer for the New York Times Book Review praised the "purity and power of Mr. Lopez's imagery." In all the stories, characters must deal with extreme situations: tragedy, grief, brushes with death. Nature seems to provide divine guidance, as in the story "Introduction: Within Birds' Hearing," in which the song of a wren leads a man, lost in the desert and near death, to some life-giving water.

In 1998 Lopez published About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory, a collection of essays written during the period from 1981-1998. With the exception of four new pieces, the essays were originally published in periodicals, including Harpers and North American Review. Reviewing the collection for Antioch Review, Carolyn Maddux commented positively on Lopez's penchant for digression into "the mythic or metaphysical," writing that the author's "prose is always more than natural history, exposition, autobiography." Maddux concluded: "The seventeen pieces vary widely in form, though they have in common Lopez's characteristic lucidity of prose. Here is delight for the connoisseur of essays."

Lopez demonstrated his range when he published Light Action in the Caribbean, a work praised by Donna Seaman in Booklist as a "breath-takingly luminous and versatile collection, Lopez's strongest book of fiction to date." Many of the stories in the book are narrated by men who are trying to improve their understanding of life by applying themselves to a craft, or by reflecting on nature. In one, a prison inmate sets others free with this prayers and his storytelling; in another, a lawyer retreats to a monastery and becomes absorbed in building a very special model ship. In yet another, a gardener disturbs his clients with his great generosity. "The stories here are terse and tough and offer food for thought," affirmed Robert E. Brown in Library Journal.

Resistance, published in 2004, serves as another significant addition to Lopez's fiction canon. Set in a world dominated by fundamentalism and capitalism, the book is comprised of nine vignettes, each narrated by someone who has been detained by the fictional Office of Inland Security. The book's characters are all activists of some sort, and are charged with the crime of terrorizing the imagination of the citizenry; for their own part, each narrator recalls the moment when he or she realized the injustices of the world. Library Journal reviewer David Hellman found this book marred by some "heavyhanded polemics," and warned that many of the narrators seem "self-absorbed and unpleasantly righteous." A Publishers Weekly writer took a more enthusiastic view of the book, explaining: "Passionate in feeling but cool in rhetoric, these testimonials feel like haunting fragments of committed lives; though not always satisfying as straight fiction, they are powerful as artistic argument." Seaman also lauded Resistance, declaring: "Dramatic, unique, and provocative, these are essential stories for polarized times."

If you enjoy the works of Barry Lopez

If you enjoy the works of Barry Lopez, you may also want to check out the following books:

Edward Abbey, Down the River, 1982.

Annie Dillard, The Living, 1992.

Farley Mowat, High Latitudes, 2002.

Discussing his fiction with Aton, Lopez commented: "My interest in a story is to illuminate a set of circumstances that bring some understanding of human life, enough at least so that a reader can identify with it and draw some vague sense of hope or sustenance or deep feeling and in some way be revived." He stated that it was very important to him "to go into a story with a capacity for wonder, where I know I can derive something 'wonder-full' and then bring this into the story so that a reader can feel it and say, 'I am an adult. I have a family, I pay bills, I live in a world of chicanery and subterfuge and atomic weaponry and inhumanity and round-heeled politicians and garrulous, insipid television personalities, but still I have wonder. I have been brought to a state of wonder by contact with something in a story.'" In his interview with Marx, he emphasized the centrality of writing and storytelling in his life, saying: "My themes will always be dignity of life, structures of prejudice, passion, generosity, kindness and the possibility of the good life in dark circumstances."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Cooley, J., editor, Earthly Words: Essays on Contemporary American Nature and Environmental Writers, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1994.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 256: Twentieth-Century American Western Writers, Third Series, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002; Volume 275: Twentieth-Century American Nature Writers: Prose, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2003.

Lopez, Barry Holstun, Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape (nonfiction), Scribner (New York, NY), 1986.

Lopez, Barry Holstun, About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory, Random House (New York, NY), 1998.

Lueders, Edward, editor, Writing Natural History: Dialogues with Authors, University of Utah Press (Salt Lake City, UT), 1989.

O'Connell, Nicholas, At the Field's End: Interviews with Twenty Pacific Northwest Writers, Madrona, 1987.

Paul, Sherman, Hewing to Experience: Essays and Reviews on Recent American Poetry and Poetics, Nature and Culture, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 1989.


Albuquerque Journal, June 27, 2004, David Steinberg, review of Resistance, p. F6.

Alternatives Journal, spring, 1999, Martin von Mirbach, review of About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory, p. 37.

Antioch Review, winter, 1999, Carolyn Maddux, review of About This Life, p. 103.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 8, 2004, Carlo Wolff, review of Resistance, p. L4.

Backpacker, August, 1995, Jeff Rennicke, review of Field Notes: The Grace Note of the Canyon Wren, p. 94.

Bloomsbury Review, January-February, 1990; January-February, 1998.

Booklist, April, 1998, Donna Seaman, review of About This Life, p. 1276; December 1, 1998, p. 627; December 15, 1998, p. 720; December 1, 1999, p. 681; October 15, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of Light Action in the Caribbean, p. 418; May 1, 2004, Donna Seaman, review of Resistance, p. 1547.

Chicago Tribune, November 5, 1978; March 30, 1986.

Choice, October, 1978, review of Giving Birth to Thunder, Sleeping with His Daughter: Coyote Builds North America, p. 1051.

Christian Science Monitor, February 12, 1979.

Commonweal, March 24, 2000, Nicholas O'Connell, "At One with the Natural World," p. 11.

Denver Post, June 13, 2004, Ron Franscell, review of Resistance, p. F11.

Detroit News, November 4, 1979.

English Journal, April, 1989.

Environmental Journal, January-February, 1991.

Esquire, November, 1994, p. 136.

Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), April 11, 2005, Dave Philipps, "Author Poses Concerns over Man's 'Progress,'" p. L1.

Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), May 31, 1986.

Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, MI), August 1, 2004, Maria Sudekum Fisher, review of Resistance, p. J6.

Guardian, April 2, 2005, Robert Macfarlane, "Robert Macfarlane on Barry Lopez, Whose Language Grips an Arctic Wilderness Now under Threat," p. 36.

Harper's, December, 1984.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of Resistance, p. 352.

Kliatt, fall, 1981, review of Giving Birth to Thunder, pp. 31-32.

Library Journal, May 15, 1998, Nancy Patterson, review of About This Life, p. 86; January, 2000, p. 141; October 1, 2000, Robert E. Brown, review of Light Action in the Caribbean, p. 149; June 15, 2004, David Hellman, review of Resistance, p. 59.

Los Angeles Times, November 12, 1978; May 9, 1981.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, March 2, 1986; February 14, 1988; April 2, 1995, p. 6; September 17, 1995, p. 8.

Miami Herald, September 30, 1979; March 29, 1986.

Missouri Review, Volume 11, number 3, 1988.

Nation, November 11, 1978.

New Republic, June 30, 1979.

Newsweek, October 16, 1978.

New Yorker, February 26, 1979; March 17, 1986; November 26, 1990.

New York Review of Books, October 12, 1978.

New York Times, January 4, 1979; February 12, 1986; March 29, 1986; July 4, 2004, Jeff Turrentine, review of Resistance, p. 16.

New York Times Book Review, November 19, 1978; June 14, 1981; February 16, 1986; April 24, 1988, Edwin Dobb, review of Crossing Open Ground; November 25, 1990; November 20, 1994, p. 22; June 21, 1998, p. 6.

North Dakota Quarterly, winter, 1988.

Observer (London, England), June 24, 1979.

Orion Nature Quarterly, summer, 1990.

Pacific Northwest, March-April, 1980.

Poets and Writers, March-April, 1994.

Progressive, May, 1980, David Miller, review of River Notes.

Publishers Weekly, January 16, 1978, review of Giving Birth to Thunder, p. 83; October 11, 1985; June 23, 1989; July 27, 1990, Michael Coffey, interview with Lopez; September 26, 1994, Douglas Marx, interview with Lopez, p. 41; May 11, 1998, review of About This Life, p. 57; September 7, 1998, p. 97; January 10, 2000, p. 46; May 22, 2000, p. 90; May 3, 2004, review of Resistance, p. 167.

Register-Guard (Eugene, OR), April 21, 2002, Kimber Williams, "Natural Reaction," p. L1.

St. Petersburg Times, May 24, 2004, Carlo Wolff, review of Resistance, p. 1E.

Saturday Review, April, 1981, Alan Cheuse, review of Winter Count.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 4, 2004, Scott Driscoll, review of Resistance, p. 24.

Seattle Review, fall, 1985, Nick O'Connell, interview with Lopez. Sierra, November, 1998, p. 58.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), October 10, 2004, Kristin Tillotson, review of Resistance, p. 11F.

Studies in Short Fiction, summer, 1996, David Starkey, review of Field Notes, p. 433.

Time, March 10, 1986, review of Arctic Dreams, p. 74; February 29, 1988, review of Crossing Open Ground, p. 90; October 10, 1994, p. 90.

Times Literary Supplement, December 7, 1979; August 8, 1986.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), November 23, 1979.

U.S. Catholic, June, 1998, Maureen Abood, "God between the Lines: Five Writers of Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry Talk about the Spiritual Source of Their Art," pp. 18-24.

Washington Post, November 27, 1978; November 18, 1986; November 24, 1986.

Washington Post Book World, March 9, 1986.

Western American Literature, spring, 1986, Jim Aton, interview with Lopez.

World Literature Today, fall, 1997, p. 800.


12Gauge.com, http://www.12gauge.com/ (February 1, 2005), Mark Mordue, interview with Lopez.

Calypso Consulting Web site, http://www.calypsoconsulting.com/lopez.htm/ (February 1, 2005), interview with Lopez.

January Online, http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (April, 2001), Linda Richards, interview with Lopez.


Barry Lopez Interview with Kay Bonetti (audio recording), American Audio Prose Library (Columbia, MO), 1985.*

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Lopez, Barry

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Lopez, Barry