A review by carracarmenchu
The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature, by J. Drew Lanham

emotional inspiring lighthearted medium-paced


This autobiography resembles the poetic, nature-worshipping style of Walt Whitman or Mary Oliver. However, there is a difference, the writer is a black person. And he is aware of that difference, of that feature he carries in a world of diversity:

My plumage is a kaleidoscopic rainbow of an eternal hope and the deepest blue of despair and darkness. All of these hues are me; I am, in the deepest sense, colored.

Yet he is also aware of his right to belong to that place, to that country, to those forests. The difference, the actual difference about his white fellows is that he has to claim that right, fight for his place in that society, in that country, in his field of study - ornithology/ bird watching, a field dominated by middle-aged, middle-class white men - and that legitimate claim is based on his connection to nature. And that is what Lanham narrates in this memoir: how that connection develops throughout his life.

At the same time, he discovers the marvels of the natural surroundings, the history of his family, and his skin; he learns about kindness and cruelty too, but exactly this connection with nature, this sense of wonder keeps him optimistic:

But the land, in spite of its history, still holds hope for making good on the promises we thought it could, especially if we can reconnect to it.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings