Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father's Search for the Wild Review

Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father's Search for the Wild
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Tom Fate's `Cabin Fever' is a book that at first seems too much of a paean to Thoreau; and one wonders at a point if this escape to the wild is an excuse to leave the wife and three children, even though they're included on some of the trips.
He divides his musings into spring, summer, autumn and winter; so we do not really even start out with the construction of his cabin in the woods near Lake Michigan. It is a reminiscence later in the pages. His purposes of escape are sometimes not very clear and one realizes that typing on a laptop by candlelight is perhaps his modern version of Thoreau writing his observations, which are frequently quoted and read by Tom.
Where the book starts to come alive are his observations of suburban wildlife, birds, cicada, his family and even his wife's operation and her recovery. We begin to appreciate his study of his time in the woods as well as his almost disastrous episode in trimming trees in his backyard, his experience pretending to know what he is doing in selecting 2X4's in the lumberyard and learning what he is really looking for.
He brings the wonder of coyotes at O'Hare Airport and the realities of the death of the family cat to his writing..
This is not just a solitary trip into the woods and the cabin, it is a revelation of nature around us wherever we live and a reading that grows on you as you journey through his year.

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A modern Walden--if Thoreau had had three kids and a minivan--Cabin Fever is a serious yet irreverent take on living in a cabin in the woods while also living within our high-tech, materialist culture. Try to imagine Thoreau married, with a job, three kids, and a minivan. This is the serious yet irreverent sensibility that suffuses Cabin Fever, as the author seeks to apply the hermit-philosopher's insights to a busy modern life. Tom Montgomery Fate lives in a Chicago suburb, where he is a husband, father, professor, and active member of his community. He also lives in a cabin built with the help of friends in the Michigan woods, where he walks by the river, chops wood, and reads Thoreau by candle light. While he divides his time between suburbia and the cabin, Fate's point is not to draw a line between the two but to ask what each has to say about the other. How do we balance nature (picking blackberries) with technology (tapping BlackBerrys)? What is revealed about human boundaries when a coyote wanders into a Quiznos? Can a cardinal protecting chicks from a hungry cat teach us anything about instincts and parenting? Fate seeks a more attentive, deliberate way of seeing the world and our place in it, not only among the trees and birds but also in the context of our relationships and society. A seasonal nature memoir, Cabin Fever takes readers on a search for the wild both in the woods and within ourselves. Although we are often estranged from nature in our daily lives, Fate shows that we can recover our kinship with the earth and its other inhabitants if we are willing to pay attention. In his exploration of how we are to live "a more deliberate life" amid a high-tech, material world, Fate invites readers into an interrogation of their own lives, and into a new kind of vision: the possibility of enough in a culture of more.

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