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

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Beacon Press, Jun 7, 2011 - Nature - 224 pages
Cabin Fever might be described as a modern Walden, if you can imagine Thoreau married, with a job, three kids, and a minivan. A seasonal memoir written alternately from a little cabin in the Michigan woods and a house in suburban Chicago, the book engages readers in a serious yet irreverent conversation about Thoreau's relevance in the modern age. 

The author turns Thoreau's immortal statement "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately" on its head with the phrase "I got married and had children because I wished to live deliberately." Though Fate spends half his time at the cabin, this is no world-renouncing, back-to-nature paean. Unlike Thoreau during his Walden years, he balances his solitude with full engagement in family and civic life. 

Fate's writing reflects this balancing of nature and family in stories such as "The Confused Cardinal," in which a male cardinal feeds chicks of another species and leads to a reflection on parenting; "In the Time of Cicadas," which juxtaposes his wife's hysterectomy with the burgeoning fecundity of the seventeen-year cicadas coming out to mate; and in a beautiful essay reminiscent of E. B. White's "Once More to the Lake," in which Fate takes his son to the same cabin his father took him as a child.

In his exploration of how we are to live "a more deliberate life" amid a high-tech, materialist culture, 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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Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father's Search for the Wild

User Review  - Book Verdict

Imagine if Thoreau had written his masterpiece, Walden, not hiding out in a cabin in the woods but living in the suburbs with a wife, three kids, and a full-time job. Fate (Steady & Trembling: Art ... Read full review

CABIN FEVER: A Suburban Father's Search for the Wild

User Review  - Kirkus

A suburban father marches to the beat of Henry David Thoreau.After rereading Walden in middle age, Fate (English/Coll. of DuPage; Steady & Trembling: Art, Faith, & Family in an Uncertain World, 2005 ... Read full review


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Lake Glass

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About the author (2011)

Tom Montgomery Fate is the author of four books, including the collection of essays Beyond the White Noise and the spiritual memoir Steady and Trembling. His essays have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Orion, Iowa Review, Fourth Genre, Christian Century, and many other publications, and they often air on NPR's Living On Earth and Chicago Public Radio. He is a professor of English at College of DuPage in Illinois, where he  lives with his family. His cabin is in southwest Michigan.

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