In Stories from under the Sky, John Madson salutes the outdoor life. These thirty-six essays display his healthy respect for the forces of nature, without diminishing his wry awareness of the foibles of beast, bird, fish, and human.
In sections on mammals, the river, and birds, Madson acquaints readers with some real characters—not all of them four-footed! Some are old favorites: the raccoon, the otter, the fawn, and the badger. Others are less familiar—the demonic shrew, the indomitable dogfish, and the graceful blue heron. Even the “unloved” come in for their share of attention: toads, waterbugs, wasps, and turkey buzzards. Madson has a yarn to spin about each one. Where else would you find an essay on “Snake Liars”?
Whatever the topic, Madson’s love of nature shines through, be it coon hunting or an explanation of the incredible bird machine. His obvious affection is tempered with the recognition that not everything “natural” is a pretty sight. All of which leaves readers with a better understanding of life under the sky.
“Reading Madson is like reading some of his more illustrious and heady predecessors in the American experience . . . namely Emerson and Thoreau.”—Kansas City Star