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Skinny Dipping

And Other Immersions in Water, Myth, and Being Human
Janet Lembke

BUY Paper · 192 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813922850 · $18.95 · Mar 2004

The author of the acclaimed Dangerous Birds followed that success with a new collection of essays on the natural world, these connected by the theme of water: exploring issues as varied as the joy that water brings, the wistful rememberings it engenders, and its sacredness. As with all of Lembke’s essays, the world of classical myth and its characters meld with her native haunts and their people, lending resonance to the seemingly simplest things: a beetle in the garden, a tangle of forgotten roses, an afternoon rainstorm.

Now available in paperback for the first time, Skinny Dipping brings us waters as diverse as the mythical River Styx and the Bullpasture, a stream near Lembke’s Virginia home. In the title essay she looks down a long corridor of time to visit Pliny, the natural historian, for a "skinny dip" in A.D. 79; "Up the Creek" examines a lazy day’s canoe trip with a frightened young friend about to leave home; "And This Way the Water Comes Down at the Gorge" is a tale of a burial—with a fine supporting cast of Faulkneresque characters. Skinny Dipping will delight all lovers of Janet Lembke’s other books, and anyone who appreciates the art of the personal essay.


Lembke is one of today's finest nature writers.

Library Journal

Wholly captivating.

Publishers Weekly

[Lembke's] ability to pull together disparate elements in her writing is impressive, and her passionate connection with the natural world is displayed in line after line.

New York Times Book Review

For readers who appreciate the essay form in all its complexity, Lembke's fluid style can challenge and fascinate. She goes in and out of mythology and fact, fairy tale and history, past and present, like a practiced swimmer diving beneath a wave and floating on the next one, always aware of the underlying current but buoyed by new surprises at every swell.

Chicago Tribune

About the Author(s): 

Janet Lembke is the author of Dangerous Birds, River Time, and Looking for Eagles, and is a translator of Greek and Latin classics. She divides her time between homes in Virginia and North Carolina, never too far from a good swimming hole.

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