Litkicks Message Board Archive

Peter Matthiessen

Posted to WritersAndGenres




Peter Matthiessen occuppies a special place in American letters given that he is both a brilliant novelist and a renown naturalist & writer of influential non-fiction.

The experimental novel "Far Tortuga" is terrific, it's written in a spare format of limited description and much character-speak (the characters being Cayman Island turtle fisherman, the book is composed in their creole island speech).

"The Snow Leopard" is, of course, a contemporary classic of inner travel, meditation, Buddhist musing, & self-discovery, all stemming from his trek into the Himalayas in search of the snow leopard.

In one of his earlier books, a travelogue of South America called "The Cloud Forest" (circa 1960), he recounts (toward the end of the book) bumping into beat poet Allen Ginsberg, a fun little anecdote for Ginsberg fans. The two later met and were friends (1980s), both being Buddhists, and both sharing an interest in contemporary American human rights, in particular the plight of Leonard Peltier and that travesty of "justice".

Anyone have a favorite Matthiessen book, or story to recount? Have people read him? Does anyone on this board have a sense of this person's output? Where does he rate in contemporary letters?