Peter Matthiessen died on Saturday, April 5, 2014. He was a mesmerizing author, who drew me in and took me with him wherever he went. It was surprising to read in the New York Times that he felt he was a fiction writer – and that he liked the fiction work he had done, rather than the nature and travel writing that I knew and loved him best for.
I have three of his books – The Snow Leopard, The Tree Where Man Was Born and In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. The first two are of travel and spirit, the last ‘The story of (Native American) Leonard Peltier and the FBI’s war on the American Indian Movement’ (AIM). I have never been able to finish that book – way too painful, although written in a journalistic style, and sticking almost always just to the facts.
My intent – for my own rejuvenation – is to re-read the two books I have finished by Peter, and to re-read and complete In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. Then I would like to work my way through the rest of his books, fiction and non-. And finish up with the new book that is being published in the next few days.
I have already begun re-reading The Snow Leopard – it went straight to my heart the first time, and is doing the same thing again, 20 years later. I bought it because I love Tibet and Nepal, and was eager to read anything that would take me back to that mystical place. This book – with factual material, descriptions of nature and reality, a deep understanding of the spiritual – has me leaning against the wind in the high Himalayas, focused on one of the many peaks of Annapurna, breathing that crystalline air.
No wonder I don’t want to put it down to sleep.