Dennis, Jerry 1954–

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Dennis, Jerry 1954–

(Jerry C. Dennis)

PERSONAL:

Born October 12, 1954, in Flint, MI; married; children: two sons. Education: University of Louisville, B.A., 1981.

ADDRESSES:

Home— Traverse City, MI. Agent— Michael Congdon, Don Congdon Associates, 156 5th Ave., Ste. 625, New York, NY 10010. E-mail— [email protected]er.net.

CAREER:

Full-time writer, 1986—.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Author of the year, Michigan Library Association and Center for the Book, 1999; alumnus of the year, University of Louisville, School of Arts and Sciences, 2003, for literary achievements; Olson nature writing award, Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, Ashland College, 2004, for The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas; Great Lakes culture award, Michigan State University, 2004, for The Living Great Lakes.

WRITINGS:

Canoeing Michigan Rivers: A Comprehensive Guide to 45 Rivers, maps and photographs by Craig Date, Friede (Davison, MI), 1986, revised edition, 2001.

The Best Bicycle Tours of Eastern Canada: Twelve Breathtaking Tours through Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Québec, and Ontario, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1992.

It's Raining Frogs and Fishes: Four Seasons of Natural Phenomena and Oddities of the Sky, drawings by Glenn Wolff, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

A Place on the Water: An Angler's Reflections on Home, illustrations by Glenn Wolff, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993.

The Bird in the Waterfall: A Natural History of Oceans, Rivers, and Lakes, drawings by Glenn Wolff, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

The River Home: An Angler's Explorations, illustrations by Glenn Wolff, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

From a Wooden Canoe: Reflections on Canoeing, Camping, and Classic Equipment, illustrations by Glenn Wolff, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Leelanau: A Portrait of Place in Photographs and Text, photographs by Ken Scott, Petunia Press (Charlevoix, MI), 2000.

The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to anthologies. Contributor to periodicals, including Smithsonian, Audubon, National Geographic Traveler, Field and Stream, Wildlife Conservation, Orion, Sports Afield, American Way, and the New York Times.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jerry Dennis is a writer who focuses primarily on nature and its impact on human culture, especially in and around the Great Lakes region of North America. Born in Flint, Michigan, in 1954, Dennis earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Louisville in 1981. By 1986 he was writing full time. His writing has been featured in various anthologies, and he contributes to a number of periodicals, including Smithsonian, Audubon, National Geographic Traveler, Field and Stream, Wildlife Conservation, Orion, Sports Afield, American Way, and the New York Times. Dennis has received a range of awards and honors throughout his career, including being named author of the year in 1999 by the Michigan Library Association and Center for the Book and University of Louisville, School of Arts and Sciences alumnus of the year in 2003.

In 1996 Dennis published The Bird in the Waterfall: A Natural History of Oceans, Rivers, and Lakes. In it he gives explanations for a variety of water-related issues, including why water color changes, why lakes freeze, and why rivers meander. Reviews for the book were quite positive. Jennifer Henderson, writing in Booklist, found the book "poetic and personal for casual readers," as well as "informative for students." Chelsey Baker, reviewing the book in Earth, felt that the writing was geared "for everyone." Baker concluded that "when you have finished reading it, you will not only know more, but you may become as charmed with water as Dennis is."

He followed this with a more personal book in 1998 called The River Home: An Angler's Explorations. The book is a collection of five short stories and nineteen essays on how fishers are influenced by their trade, family, and their environment. Dennis highlights his travel experiences and thoughts on fishing at night, in perfect silence, and even in the nude. Reviews were mixed for the personal account. A contributor to Publishers Weekly noted some "salient observations about life." The same contributor, however, found many of the stories "uninspired." In a Booklist review, John Rowen thought that the book's "fresh writing and marvelous insights merit special attention."

In 1999 Dennis published From a Wooden Canoe: Reflections on Canoeing, Camping, and Classic Equipment. The book takes a simple approach to enjoying nature without involving much modern technology, from cooking on a cast-iron skillet to paddling a wooden canoe. Reviews were mostly positive. Jeff Grossman, writing in Library Journal, remarked that readers "looking for a lighthearted view of the joys of ‘roughing it’ should enjoy" the book. Rowen, writing again in Booklist, thought that Dennis "writes concise, well-informed, witty prose." Rowen added that "his tone is friendly and appreciative of tradition."

Dennis published The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas in 2003. As a crew member on the schooner Malabar 's six-week trip around the five Great Lakes, Dennis covers the events of the trip as well as the history of these large inland lakes and their ecological and geological states. Reviews were also positive for this book. Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor commented that by covering all five lakes, Dennis fills "his chronicle with a breadth that makes it a fine introduction to the lakes' ecology." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews concluded that The Living Great Lakes is "an enticing homecoming party for the Great Lakes, with a welcome-back for some readers, and an invitation for others."

Dennis told CA: "As long as I can remember I wanted to be a writer. It's sort of mysterious because my parents were not avid readers (though they are now) and owned only a couple small shelves of books. But I received books as gifts and made liberal use of the local library, so at an early age I became thoroughly besotted with written words. By age ten or twelve I couldn't imagine a more worthy activity than writing books.

"I have had three reliable influences/inspirations: the people in my life, the books I read, and the places I go. Apparently all three are necessary. When I neglect one or more of them, my creative faucet turns off.

"One of the biggest surprises as a writer also turns out to be a powerful motivation: The act of writing is an act of discovery. I never know quite what I think or precisely how I feel about a subject until I write about it.

"My favorite of my publications is usually the most recent one, but my sentimental favorite will probably always be A Place on the Water, which is a collection of personal essays about growing up—and growing into—the outdoors. It was the first book in which I dared to step upon a stage and tell the stories that meant the most to me. The experience was powerful and transformative, and shaped every book that followed."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Dennis, Jerry,A Place on the Water: An Angler's Reflections on Home, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993.

Dennis, Jerry,The River Home: An Angler's Explorations, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Dennis, Jerry,The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2003.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 15, 1992, Jon Kartman, review of It's Raining Frogs and Fishes: Four Seasons of Natural Phenomena and Oddities of the Sky, p. 108; September 1, 1993, Jon Kartman, review of A Place on the Water, p. 26; November 1, 1993, review of A Place on the Water, p. 534; September 1, 1996, Jennifer Henderson, review of The Bird in the Waterfall: A Natural History of Oceans, Rivers, and Lakes, p. 47; December 1, 1996, Donna Seaman, review of The Bird in the Waterfall, p. 630; June 1, 1998, John Rowen, review of The River Home, p. 1705; March 15, 1999, John Rowen, review of From a Wooden Canoe: Reflections on Canoeing, Camping, and Classic Equipment, p. 1283; February 15, 2003, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Living Great Lakes, p. 1034.

Books in Canada, summer, 1992, review of The Best Bicycle Tours of Eastern Canada: Twelve Breathtaking Tours through Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Québec, and Ontario.

Canadian Geographic, September, 2003, review of The Living Great Lakes, p. 98.

Earth, December, 1997, Chelsey Baker, review of The Bird in the Waterfall, p. 60.

Geotimes, May, 2005, Jack Manno, "Riding the Great Lakes," p. 44.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2003, review of The Living Great Lakes, p. 36.

Library Journal, March 15, 1992, Elizabeth Skinner, review of The Best Bicycle Tours of Eastern Canada, p. 115; September 1, 1996, Judith Barnett, review of The Bird in the Waterfall, p. 205; February 15, 1999, Jeff Grossman, review of From a Wooden Canoe, p. 159; January, 2003, Maureen J. Delaney-Lehman, review of The Living Great Lakes, p. 148.

Nature Conservancy, fall, 2003, Katherine Sharpe, review of The Living Great Lakes.

New York Times, October 22, 1990, Jerry Dennis, "Touring Eastern Canada by Bicycle," p. 12.

Publishers Weekly, May 4, 1998, review of The River Home, p. 199; November 25, 2002, review of The Living Great Lakes, p. 50.

Quill & Quire(Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June, 1992, review of The Best Bicycle Tours of Eastern Canada, p. 30; June, 1992, review of The Best Bicycle Tours of Eastern Canada, p. 30.

Wall Street Journal, May 7, 1999, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, review of From a Wooden Canoe, p. 9.

ONLINE

Ken Scott Photography Web site,http://www.kenscottphotography.com/ (November 27, 2007), author profile.

Up in Michigan Web site,http://upinmichigan.org/ (November 27, 2007), Jacob Powers and Megan Ward, author interview.

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