Writer, traveler, and adventurer Sy Montgomery ‘s books are such a pleasure to read because her rich, immersive descriptions make you feel like you’re right there with her, whether it’s deep in the rainforests of borneo or the mangrove swamps of Bangladesh. The delight she brings to her subjects is infectious.
In this article, Truthout reviewer Leslie Thatcher goes exploring the lush, astounding worlds of Sy Montgomery.
It is not uncommon for those of us who love books to discover that even the finest actor and the best screenplay do not convey the subtleties of character and character development a good author reveals. Consequently, the impressions that Sigourney Weaver’s wonderful performance as Dian Fossey in “Gorillas in the Mist” or that even Jane Goodall being herself in National Geographic’s documentary “Return to Gombe” were but pale representations of the complex women so brilliantly portrayed in Sy Montgomery’s “Walking with the Great Apes” were not surprising. But that the actual Rwandan and Tanzanian forests should be so much less alive on film than they are in Sy Montgomery’s book was a revelation I believe any reader of the excerpt above may begin to appreciate.
Green Press Initiative publisher Chelsea Green has done a great service reissuing Ms. Montgomery’s four science and adventure books: “Walking with the Great Apes,” “The Spell of the Tiger,” “Journey of the Pink Dolphins: An Amazon Quest,” and “Search For the Golden Moon Bear,” each embellished with new material from the author or from her friends: author and anthropologist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and biologist Gary Galbreath. The new editions also feature a fresh selection of photographs from the original expeditions.
“Science and Adventure” captures the ostensible subjects of these four books, each of which involve journeys to what most of us would consider remote and dangerous locations on missions of scientific research and discovery. But they might equally well be classified with works of “religion,” “anthropology,” or “philosophy,” so deeply does that primary religious impulse – wonder – run through these four and all of Ms. Montgomery’s books, so profound is her respect for all the living beings she encounters: the scientists, photographers and guides she works with, the government officials and indigenous people she comes to know in her travels, members of her community at home, the creatures she studies, the creatures she lives among – both domesticated and wild – and life forms in all their imbricated complexity and wild individuality.
Photo: Rodney Brindamour / National Geographic Stock