Cabin Fever by Tom Montgomery Fate


5 Critic Reviews

Best of all, Mr. Fate is a fan of the coyote. . .
-WSJ online


Cabin Fever might be described as a modern Walden, if you can imagine Thoreau married, with a job, three kids, and a minivan. A seasonal memoir written alternately from a little cabin in the Michigan woods and a house in suburban Chicago, the book engages readers in a serious yet irreverent conversation about Thoreau's relevance in the modern age. 

The author turns Thoreau's immortal statement "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately" on its head with the phrase "I got married and had children because I wished to live deliberately." Though Fate spends half his time at the cabin, this is no world-renouncing, back-to-nature paean. Unlike Thoreau during his Walden years, he balances his solitude with full engagement in family and civic life. 

Fate's writing reflects this balancing of nature and family in stories such as "The Confused Cardinal," in which a male cardinal feeds chicks of another species and leads to a reflection on parenting; "In the Time of Cicadas," which juxtaposes his wife's hysterectomy with the burgeoning fecundity of the seventeen-year cicadas coming out to mate; and in a beautiful essay reminiscent of E. B. White's "Once More to the Lake," in which Fate takes his son to the same cabin his father took him as a child.

In his exploration of how we are to live "a more deliberate life" amid a high-tech, materialist culture, Fate invites readers into an interrogation of their own lives, and into a new kind of vision: the possibility of enough in a culture of more.

About Tom Montgomery Fate

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Tom Montgomery Fate is the author of four books, including the collection of essaysBeyond the White Noise and the spiritual memoir Steady and Trembling. His essays have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Orion, Iowa Review, Fourth Genre, Christian Century, and many other publications, and they often air on NPR's Living On Earth and Chicago Public Radio. He is a professor of English at College of DuPage in Illinois, where he lives with his family. His cabin is in southwest Michigan.
Published June 7, 2011 by Beacon Press. 225 pages
Genres: Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Nature & Wildlife, Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction, Parenting & Relationships, Science & Math, Sports & Outdoors. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Cabin Fever
All: 5 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 0


Apr 01 2011

Quiet, beautifully written reflections on nature and the mindful life, laced with the thoughts and writings of Thoreau.

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Publishers Weekly

Apr 11 2011

. . .there are real gems of insight and wit on the diverse topics of appreciating nature, love and sex, technology, parenthood, the solitary life, art, self-reliance, reason and aging.

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WSJ online

Reviewed by Dave Shiflett on Jul 09 2011

Best of all, Mr. Fate is a fan of the coyote. . .

Read Full Review of Cabin Fever | See more reviews from WSJ online


Reviewed by Andrew Gottleib on Nov 03 2011

I grew fond fast of this book, and it’s hard not to.

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Brevity Book Reviews

Reviewed by Todd Davis

. . .a quietly stunning book, organized around the four seasons, much as Walden is structured.

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