Join us on Saturday, December 1st at 6:30 pm to celebrate THE ANIMAL ONE THOUSAND MILES LONG -- a fabulous debut collection of essays from talented young Vermont writer Leath Tonino. Leath will be treating us to a reading, will field questions about the work and about his writing process, and will sign books!
The phrase “an animal a thousand miles miles long,” attributed to Aristotle, refers to a sprawling body that cannot be seen in its entirety from a single angle. For Leath Tonino, that animal is the landscape of his native Vermont. Tonino grew up along the shores of Lake Champlain, situated between Vermont’s Green Mountains and New York’s Adirondacks. His career as a nature and travel writer has taken him across the country, but he always turns his eye back on his home state. “All along,” he writes, “I’ve been exploring various parts of the animal, trying to make a prose map of its body—not to understand it in a conclusive or definitive way but rather to celebrate it, to hint at its possibilities.”
This fragmented yet deep search is the overarching theme of the twenty essays in The Animal One Thousand Miles Long. Tonino posits that geography, natural history, human experience, local traditions, seasons, and especially atypical outings—on skis, bicycles, sleds, and boogie boards—can open us to a place and simultaneously open a place to us. He looks closely at what he calls “huge-small” Vermont, but his underlying mission is to demonstrate our collective need to better understand the meaning of place, especially the places we call home and think we know best. From Laredo to Jackson Hole, San Francisco to Burlington, his sensibility is applicable to us all.
In his signature piece, “Seven Lengths of Vermont,” Tonino traverses the state in seven ways—a twenty-day hike, 500 miles on a bicycle, a thirty-six-ride hitchhiking tour, 260 miles in a canoe, ten days swimming Lake Champlain, a three-week ski trek, and a two-hour “vast and fast” flyover.
As Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods did for the Appalachian Trail and Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence did for the South of France, Tonino’s affinity for his home gives a new perspective on the Green Mountain State. His infectious love of the outdoors should inspire us to explore the places outside our own front door.
“Anyone who loves Vermont will want this on her bookshelf—a funny, smart, and novel look at the Green Mountains. ”
— Bill McKibben, author of Radio Free Vermont
“In The Animal One Thousand Miles Long, Leath Tonino draws a lyrical map for Vermont with a voice that is part scientist, part poet, part historian, and part adventurer. Tonino’s map shows us not the major cities and highest peaks but the lesser known places and ideas at the heart of Vermont—the abandoned towns, uncommon sports, and forgotten people.”
— Sean Prentiss, author of Finding Abbey
LEATH TONINO, a writer from Vermont, has also worked as a wildlife biologist in Arizona, a blueberry farmer in New Jersey, and a snow shoveler in Antarctica. His essays, reported stories, and interviews appear in magazines such as Outside, Men’s Journal, Orion, Tricycle, Utne Reader, and The Sun. When not at his desk, he roams North America’s libraries and wildlands.
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