Raymo, Chet 1936-
RAYMO, Chet 1936-
Home—North Easton, MA. Office—Stonehill College, 320 Washington St., Easton, MA 02357. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Walker & Co., 104 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011.
Author and educator. Stonehill College, Easton, MA, professor of physics and astronomy, c. 1964-2003, professor emeritus, 2003—; Boston Globe, Boston, MA, columnist, c. 1985-2003.
Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction, Lannan Foundation, 1998.
(And illustrator) 365 Starry Nights: An Introduction to Astronomy for Every Night of the Year, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1982.
The Crust of Our Earth: An Armchair Traveler's Guide to the New Geology, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1983.
Biography of a Planet: Geology, Astronomy, and the Evolution of Life on Earth, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1984.
The Soul of the Night: An Astronomical Pilgrimage, wood engravings by Michael McCurdy, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1985.
Honey from Stone: A Naturalist's Search for God, illustrated by Bob O'Cathail, Dodd Mead (New York, NY), 1987.
(With daughter, Maureen E. Raymo) Written in Stone: A Geological and Natural History of the Northeastern United States, Globe Pequot Press (Chester, CT), 1989.
The Virgin and the Mousetrap: Essays in Search of the Soul of Science, Viking (New York, NY), 1991.
Skeptics and True Believers: The Exhilarating Connection between Science and Religion, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 1998.
Natural Prayers, Hungry Mind Press (St. Paul, MN), 1999.
An Intimate Look at the Night Sky, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 2001.
The Path: A One-Mile Walk through the Universe, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 2003.
Climbing Brandon: Science and Faith on Ireland's Holy Mountain, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 2004.
In the Falcon's Claw: A Novel of the Year 1000, Viking (New York, NY), 1990.
The Dork of Cork, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Former contributor of column to Boston Globe; contributor of column to ScienceMusings.com
The novel The Dork of Cork was adapted for film as Frankie Starlight, distributed by New Line, 1995.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Valentine, a fictional story with elements of religions fundamentalism conflicting with scientific ideas.
Chet Raymo, a former columnist for the Boston Globe and professor emeritus at Stonehill College, is a prolific writer of both nonfiction and fiction. Many of his writings have been an exploration of the beauty and mystery of the universe, contrasting scientific knowledge with religious faith. Graham Christian, writing in Library Journal, noted of Raymo's works that, "For many years, Raymo contributed essays of unusual deftness and lightness to the Boston Globe, and that same grace of mind and style illuminated his book-length writings."
Raymo channels his extensive knowledge of physics and astronomy into several books, including An Intimate Look at the Night Sky. Not only a guide to the stars, the book includes the author's meditations on astronomy from historical, religious, and philosophical perspectives. Calling the work a "delightful, inspiring introduction to astronomy," Gilbert Taylor added in Booklist: "Intending to engender a feeling of closeness with the universe, Raymo infuses his own sense of connectedness to the heavens into his summaries of the planets, the comets, and the other stuff up there." Carol Ryback, in Astronomy, wrote that "it's rare for a general astronomy book to offer a practical observing course (mixed with astronomical history) that also captures the majesty of the night sky with such compelling style that you won't want to put it down."
Another of Raymo's books that draws heavily on his scientific wisdom was written with his daughter Maureen E. Raymo, an accomplished paleoclimatologist. Written in Stone: A Geological and Natural History of the Northeastern United States tracks geologic changes that have occurred in the northeastern states over hundreds of millions of years. John Rowen, writing in the New York State Conservationist, stated that "the Raymos bring a new sense of wonder to familiar places … using theory and accessible examples in the field."
Several of Raymo's works have focused less on imparting scientific knowledge than on exploring the link between science and religion. Skeptics and True Believers: The Exhilarating Connection between Science and Religion is one example, exploring two extremes: "skeptics," who reject all that does not stand up to the rigors of scientific investigation, and "true believers," who often deny objective evidence because of religious faith. Writing for Science magazine, Mark W. Richardson wrote that he was "filled with admiration for the clarity and force of [Raymo's] … writing, and for the many deep insights contained in this book.… Skeptics and True Believers raises profound questions about how we face, filter, and deny realities about the universe as received from science. It is accessible to anyone wishing to explore the 'exhilarating connections between science and religion.'"
In The Path: A One-Mile Walk through the Universe Raymo traces the one-mile commute between his home and office, a route he walked each day for thirty-seven years while working as a professor and letting not a flower or pebble go unnoticed. In School Library Journal Barbara A. Genco wrote that "Raymo has a rare gift: he encourages readers to look at everyday life with fresh eyes.… Since reading The Path, I hope that my own daily walk to work … can become 'deeper, richer, more multidimensional.'" In a review for the Library Journal, Maureen J. Delaney-Lehman commented that "Raymo instills a sense of wonder in the workings of the natural world and exhibits a deep faith in science and technology."
Released in 2004, Climbing Brandon: Science and Faith on Ireland's Holy Mountain focuses on a corner of the world that is close to Raymo's heart. For many years he has divided his time between Boston and the Dingle Peninsula of Ireland, at the base of Mount Brandon. Climbing Brandon takes the reader on a tour of a region steeped in Celtic myth and religious monuments. In the Irish Independent, reviewer Ann Dunne commented: "No less delightful for being erudite, crammed full of fascinating facts, Climbing Brandon is a charming and thought-provoking book, equally accessible to the casual hill walker or those seeking meaning in today's hectic world." Patricia Monaghan wrote in Booklist that "Raymo uses his own decades-long knowledge of the mountain as a springboard for meditations on the juncture of science and spirituality.… Not only for those interested in Ireland, this fine, short book should appeal to readers interested in earth spirituality as well."
Raymo's body of works includes fiction as well. His first novel, In the Falcon's Claw: A Novel of the Year 1000, presents the fictional memoirs of an Irish monk at the end of the first millennium. "Raymo's elegant prose and his fidelity to historical detail distinguish this well-crafted, often moving novel," wrote a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. The Dork of Cork tells the story of an Irish author with dwarfism and the life of his mother, an unwed escapee from Nazi-occupied France. Published in 1993, the book was later adapted for the 1995 film Frankie Starlight. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called The Dork of Cork a "philosophic, imaginatively plotted tale," commenting that Raymo "so skillfully manipulates the author-within-an-author narration that it's easy to forget that Frank is a fictional entity. His unique, epiphanic and bluntly truthful story forces a reconsideration of the beautiful and the grotesque."
For twenty years, Raymo's thoughts on science and humanity were published weekly in a column for the Boston Globe. After retiring from the column, Raymo felt compelled to continue his musings in a new medium: the Internet. He told Three Monkeys Online contributor Andrew Lawless: "I just found I needed to keep putting words on paper.… It's a sort of contribution from retirement to science education which remains important to me." On the ScienceMuseWeb site Raymo maintains a weekly column on various contemporary science topics as they relate to society and religion, as well as a daily "blog" of his meditations.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Scientist, Edward B. Davis, review of Skeptics and True Believers: The Exhilarating Connection between Science and Religion, p. 572.
Astronomy, July, 2002, Carol Ryback, review of An Intimate Look at the Night Sky, p. 93; October, 2003, John E. Schindler, review of An Intimate Look at the Night Sky, p. 94.
Booklist, September 15, 1994, Karen Harris, review of The Virgin and the Mousetrap: Essays in Search of the Soul of Science, p.156; January 1, 1999, review of Skeptics and True Believers, p. 777; July 1, 1999, Donna Seaman, review of Natural Prayers, p. 1901; May 1, 2001, Gilbert Taylor, review of An Intimate Look at the Night Sky, p. 1650; March 1, 2003, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Path: A One-Mile Walk through the Universe, p. 1138; April 15, 2004, Patricia Monaghan, review of Climbing Brandon: Science and Faith on Ireland's Holy Mountain, p. 1420.
Commonweal, July 16, 1993, Clare Collins, review of The Dork of Cork, p. 23.
Guardian (Manchester, England), October 9, 2004, Chet Raymo, "Mystic Mountain: Mount Brandon, a Great Solitary Peak on Ireland's West Coast," p. 12.
Humanist, March, 1999, Thomas W. Clark, review of Skeptics and True Believers, p. 45.
Irish Independent, November 6, 2004, Ann Dunne, review of Climbing Brandon.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2004, review of Climbing Brandon, p. 261.
Kliatt, November, 2003, Janet Julian, review of An Intimate Look at the Night Sky, p. 39.
Library Journal, June 1, 1998, Augustine J. Curley, review of Skeptics and True Believers, p. 114; May 15, 2001, Nancy R. Curtis, review of An Intimate Look at the Night Sky, p. 159; April 15, 2003, Maureen J. Delaney-Lehman, review of The Path: A One-Mile Walk through the Universe, p. 120; May 1, 2004, Graham Christian, review of Climbing Brandon, p. 116.
National Review, January 31, 1986, Thomas P. McDonnell, review of The Soul of the Night: An Astronomical Pilgrimage, p. 68.
New York State Conservationist, October, 2001, John Rowen, review of Written in Stone: A Geological and Natural History of the Northeastern United States, p. 30.
Publishers Weekly, January 19, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of In the Falcon's Claw: A Novel of the Year 1000, p. 97; May 31, 1991, review of The Virgin and the Mousetrap, p. 66; March 8, 1993, review of The Dork of Cork, p. 65; May 11, 1998, review of Skeptics and True Believers, p. 62; June 21, 1999, review of Natural Prayers, p. 46; April 30, 2001, review of An Intimate Look at the Night Sky, p. 68; April 5, 2004, review of Climbing Brandon, p. 50.
School Library Journal, December, 2003, Barbara A. Genco, review of The Path, p. 58.
Science, September 25, 1998, Mark W. Richardson, review of Skeptics and True Believers, pp. 1969-1970.
Science News, July 19, 2003, a review of The Path, p. 47; August 28, 2004, review of Climbing Brandon, p. 143.
Skeptical Inquirer, July-August, 1999, Wolf Roder, review of Skeptics and True Believers, p. 66.
Smithsonian, June, 1988, Ken Kalfus, review of Honey from Stone: A Naturalist's Search for God, p. 163.
Washington Post Book World, August 17, 2003, Gregory Mott, review of The Path, section T, p. 13.
ScienceMusings.com,http://www.sciencemusings.com/ (November 11, 2004), "Chet Raymo."
Stonehill College Web site,http://www.stonehill.edu/ (October 28, 2004).
Three Monkeys Online,http://www.threemonkeysonline.com/ (November 11, 2004), "Extending the Shoreline: An Interview with Chet Raymo."*