Dispatches from a Home in the Wilderness
For over a decade Michael P. Branch has been writing about life in Nevada’s Great Basin Desert with an audacity, lyricism, and wit all his own. In Raising Wild, Branch offers an intimate exploration of the western high desert. Here we find the wild and extreme land of caliche and juniper, where pronghorn antelope run and mountain lions stalk, where wildfires and snowstorms threaten in equal measure, and where Branch, his wife, and their two curious little girls brazenly live among the packrats and ground squirrels, rattlesnakes and scorpions.
In Branch’s hands, this exceedingly barren and stark landscape becomes a place teeming with energy, surprise, and an endless web of connections that ultimately includes his family and home. It is here where one can build a ladder to the stars and find a link to the past and to the heavens; where his children’s first garden becomes not the quaint blossoming of seed to flower and fruit but a smoke bomb–drenched site of futility in the face of an inhospitable desert environment; where the surprise of fire acts as a reminder all too real of the unknowable that awaits us and for which we can never fully prepare.
In this inspired and hilarious exploration of natural history and parenting, Branch reveals a desert wilderness in which our ideas about nature and ourselves are challenged and transformed.
"If Thoreau drank more whiskey and lived in the desert, he’d write like this." —High Country News
"This book is not exactly about wild landscapes but the life of a house-holding family placed out there with two verge-of-puberty daughters. It is about our daily reality, not our fantasy possibilities, and who knows today what these girls will have to say later? So it is remarkably interesting, lively, non-theoretical, and hopeful. The wild might be wildfire or bushy-tailed woodrats under the floor—not just to live with but to know them. Michael Branch’s book points forward, not back." —Gary Snyder
"Reading Michael Branch’s prose is like attending a great and raucous party. A party held around a campfire in a secret corner of the wilderness full of intense talk, laughs, liquor, and deep insights. That the kids are invited this time makes it even better. A profound and moving book that just might change some lives." —David Gessner, author of All the Wild That Remains
"At last! A home for Michael Branch’s joyous dispatches from the high desert, which I have long followed with delight. If you’re unfamiliar with Branch, prepare for your first encounter with a singular sensibility, bracing yet affable. In part a memoir of building a unique home in an extraordinary place, in part a treatise on cultivating, protecting, and loving the wild, and each other therein, Raising Wild is a wholly defiant, tender book bristling with spirit, intelligence, and mountains of laughs." —Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn and Gold Fame Citrus
"Michael Branch has been an essential figure in western letters for years. Now, in his marvelous Raising Wild, he brings us an intimate look at one remarkable family’s lucky life situated more deeply into their place than most will ever know. Hugely loving but ardently unsentimental, open and curious yet skeptical as desert dust, Mike’s dispatches shimmer. They mean so much, I could enjoy reading them even upside down, or back to front." —Robert Michael Pyle, author of Sky Time in Gray’s River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place
"I have long considered Michael Branch one of the true visionaries of western American literature—and here is further proof. This beautiful, often raucous account of fatherhood and (wild) faith takes us even deeper into his remarkable kinship with northwestern Nevada. A place where, through the ‘daily practices of love, humility, and humor,’ we can all learn to be at home in this world." —John T. Price, author of Daddy Long Legs: The Natural Education of a Father
"Not since Rachel Carson’s Sense of Wonder has there been such a lively and evocative account of intergenerational experiences in nature. Michael Branch’s Raising Wild offers breathtaking lyricism, sage wisdom, and big belly laughs in equal measure. Most importantly, this collection is a testament to the value of marrying memory and place—especially while in the company of those we love." —Kathryn Miles, author of Adventures with Ari, All Standing, and Superstorm: Nine Days Inside Hurricane Sandy