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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of Desert Solitaire and Shop Class as Soulcraft, this is a remarkable debut from a major new voice in American nonfiction—a meditation on nature and life, witnessed from the heights of one of the last fire-lookout towers in America.

For nearly a decade, Philip Connors has spent half of each year in a seven-by-seven foot fire-lookout tower, ten thousand feet above sea level in one of the most remote territories of New Mexico. One of the least developed parts of the country, the first region designated as an official wilderness area in the world, the section he tends is also one of the most fire-prone, suffering more than thirty thousand lightning strikes each year. Written with gusto, charm, and a sense of history, Fire Season captures the wonder and grandeur of this most unusual job and place: the eerie pleasure of solitude, the strange dance of communion and mistrust with its animal inhabitants, and the majesty, might, and beauty of untamed fire at its wildest.

Connors’ time up on the peak is filled with drama—there are fires large and small; spectacular midnight lightning storms and silent mornings awakening above the clouds; surprise encounters with long-distance hikers, smokejumpers, bobcats, black bears, and an abandoned, dying fawn.

Filled with Connors’ heartfelt reflections on our place in the wild, on other writers who have worked as lookouts—Jack Kerouac, Edward Abbey, Norman Maclean, Gary Snyder—and on the ongoing debate over whether fires should be suppressed or left to burn, Fire Season is a remarkable homage to the beauty of nature, the blessings of solitude, and the freedom of the independent spirit.

As Connors writes, “I’ve seen lunar eclipses and desert sandstorms and lightning that made my hair stand on end…I’ve watched deer and elk frolic in the meadow below me and pine trees explode in a blue ball of smoke. If there’s a better job anywhere on the planet, I’d like to know what it is.”

©2011 Philip Connors (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“An excellent, informative, and delightful book.” (Annie Proulx, Pulitzer Prize–winning author)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Meditation

Philip Connors left the Wall Street Journal as a reporter and worked for the Forest Service. In Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout, Connors presents a meditation on what it is like to live such a life of solitude. Along the way, the reader learns about the Gila National Forest, land and wildlife policy, and what is like in the tower. The book is entertaining and informative, but it is more of a meditation than a reporter’s notebook. Readers will catch a “feel” for the emotional side of working the tower more than technical aspects of the work. The writing just drew me in and the prose caught my imagination right away. The reading of Sean Runnette is excellent.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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For What it's worth....

I think this book deserves more credit than some reviews give it. It's more than a meditation on solitude and its less of a political rant then people say. Phil Connors is not only descriptive enough to bring you into the Gila, but also gives some history and yes his political views. Whether you agree with them or not he's just stating his point and leaving it at that. The little musings are also interesting, everything from a high school graduates choice of beverage to Jack Kerouac and his smokes.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Beautiful contemplation of the wilderness

Journalist Connors finds renewal of spirit working in the pine forest of the American South West as a fire lookout. This book is his thoughts on the experience. Although I'm sure it was carefully edited, it has a wonderful raw quality and covers different themes and topics with ease, including how to take a baring on a fire, the importance of beer in the back country and conservation ethics. The reading by Sean Runnette is sensitive and very suitable. Beware this book - it will make you want to quit your day job!

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A wonderful look into the workings of a person

This book can be placed next to classic stories on nature and man like “The River Why” and “A River Runs Through it” and hold its own in terms of the depth of character it delves into, and the beautiful descriptions of our nations natural wonders.

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  • Jules K.
  • Ft. Lauderdale, FL United States
  • 11-26-17

anyone who longs for another kind of adventure

dearly loved this book - the pacing was laconic but never boring, the prose sparse but not overly simple

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  • JBV
  • Boise, ID
  • 11-04-17

A Poetic Expedition

The Prologue and Chapter 1 succeeds with attaining the Listener's excitement in the expedition ahead. I am currently working through Chapter 4 and still have more than a few hours of adventure ahead. For the most part, I remain excited for what's to come; however, the book is a bit too poetic for my liking. I do appreciate the Author's organization and use of words but the poetic narrative remains persistent throughout the first 4 chapters and I'm patiently anticipating change in the Author's delivery. I have not yet experienced any major changes in the story line that would throw me into a new journey in which to get excited about. The Author does introduce his wife's visit to the lookout which I did find to be very enjoyable and I listened to it twice. Naturally, there are a few other accounts and events that are introduced in Chapters 1-3 that brings the Listener recreation and comfort. Overall, I am pleased with Fire Season and recommend it to those of you who enjoy writing and reading poetry and of course for those who enjoy venturing out on a solo excursion.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Interesting enough

Interesting topic. A bit too repetitive and overly dramatic at tines. Overall, worth a listen.

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makes me dream of simple adventures

Stimulates many thoughts and parallels that I myself notice with solitude and nature. Emotionally refreshing.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Could have been Awsome

Would you try another book from Philip Connors and/or Sean Runnette?

Great opportunity for an experienced ranger lookout to delve into the details of 24 hour a day experiences in one of the most unique wilderness areas in the country. But no, this old boring wanna be hippie goes on and on slamming the very people who love the land and PAY for its conservation, ranchers and foresters!

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disapointment

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Solitude

Would you listen to Fire Season again? Why?

Why listen again? It's done

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

This was a good read that kept me listening to the audible book. I especially liked the 10 rules for lookouts and the three characteristics of a good one...including a love for solitude. I tired of the political discussion and some of the wildlife issues, but I suppose they will raise awareness among those who are not of the West. And, I liked his sense of humor, a necessary trait for that kind of work.