Ranger Jordan Fisher Smith, author of Nature Noir: A Park Ranger's Patrol in the Sierra, had worked in the Sierra Nevada, the Grand Tetons, and Alaska.
But he found the greatest adventure of his life when he took a job watching over forty-eight miles of the American River canyons long condemned to be inundated by the Auburn Dam.
By the time Smith arrived on the American River, former residents had been bought out or condemned by the federal Bureau of Reclamation and their homes, mining cabins, and ranches were being burned to the ground as the river's canyons were readied to go underwater. But the dam's completion was delayed and what remained was a giant vacant lot of 42,000 rugged acres, which became a dangerous free zone for armed squatters, gold prospectors, and fugitives from the law. Over the next decade three dozen people would perish on Smith's beat in accidents, murders, and suicides. Intending to stay only a year, Smith emerged from the American River canyons fourteen years later, his body wracked by Lyme disease he'd contracted from a tick bite there. Unable to forget what he'd witnessed, he spent another four years researching the river's human and natural history.
Now Jordan Fisher Smith has published a book about his experiences
to rave reviews. "He writes about the natural world with more
grace than anyone since Edward Abbey," says Newsweek. The New
York Times calls Nature Noir "eloquently meditative." And
Outside Magazine asserts: "Nature Noir marks the debut of a terrific
new nature writer."
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"This is a walk in the woods like Thoreau never imagined. I can't
make up my mind whether Jordan Fisher Smith is John Muir at the crime
scene or Elmore Leonard with a backpack. In any event, this astonishing
book, with its brilliant interweaving of murder, irony and natural
history, invents a new genre."
"Jordan Fisher Smith writes of the present moment as if from
some vantage point in the future. The effect is eerie, and part of
what makes Nature Noir so compelling. Smith's is a refreshingly unsentimental
kind of truth-telling."
"Powerful with its intimate knowledge of place, Nature Noir achieves
an even deeper mastery with its affection for the people and human
histories of that place. Care and respect for a wild landscape attend
to every page of this book."
“Eden had a snake, Yosemite Valley has a jail, but most nature
writing is barricaded with omissions to make it just another gated
community, one that Jordan Fisher-Smith's powerful Nature Noir bursts
open for readers. Thus it is he defends victims of domestic violence
as much as violence against nature, which might not be separate things