Walking the Wrack Line
On Tidal Shifts and What Remains

Barbara Hurd

Evocative nature writing in the tradition of Terry Tempest Williams and Gretel Ehrlich


"This is a beautiful book. It is as skillfully constructed as a poem, and like a poem its meanings widen. It is a series of fascinating, informative nature essays, but more deeply it is a series of meditations on 'what might be rescued from near-destruction, from silence, from invisibility.' As such, it becomes spiritual autobiography with a great deal to say, though almost always indirectly, about human aging and loss."
—Ann Fisher-Wirth, author of Five Terraces

"In the partial and broken objects she gathers, Hurd finds the transcendent. Easily braiding observation and reflection, she is a clear-eyed witness to living gracefully with the wrack and ruin of our human burdens. She is a marvelous writer."
—Alison Hawthorne Deming, author of Writing the Sacred Into the Real

More / Hide

Barbara Hurd continues to give nature writing a human dimension in this final volume of her trilogy that began with Stirring the Mud and Entering the Stone. With prose both eloquent and wise, she examines what washes ashore, from the angel wing shells to broken oars. Even a merman appears in this brilliant collection that throws light on the mysterious and the overlooked.

Writing from beaches as far-flung as Morocco, St. Croix, or Alaska, and as familiar as California and Cape Cod, she helps us see beauty in the gruesome feeding process of the moon snail. She holds up an encrusted, still-sealed message bottle to make tangible the emotional divide between mother and daughter. She considers a chunk of sea glass and the possibilities of transformation.

The book began on a beach, Hurd says, "with the realization that a lot of what I care about survives in spite of—perhaps because of—having been broken or lost for a while in backward drift. Picking up egg cases, stones, shells, I kept turning them over—in my hands and in my mind."

Each chapter starts with close attention to an object—a shell fragment of a pelican egg, or perhaps a jellyfish—but then widens into larger concerns: the persistence of habits, desire, disappointments, the lie of the perfectly preserved, the pleasures of aversions, transformations, and a phenomenon from physics known as the strange attractor.

Page count: 136 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.25


List price: $24.95

buy button
View Shopping Cart

Barbara Hurd is the author of Stirring the Mud, Entering the Stone, and a collection of poetry, The Singer's Temple. Her work has appeared in Best American Essays, Yale Review, Georgia Review, Nimrod, New Letters, and Audubon. Hurd teaches creative writing at Frostburg State University, where she has held the Elkins Professorship, and at the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine.