How to Write Wilderness


At The Millions, Mary Catherine Martin responds to the flaws she found in Dave Eggers’s representation of the Alaskan wilderness in his most recent novel, Heroes of the Frontier. She explains why writers who “write wilderness” have a responsibility to understand the great outdoors before putting pen to paper:

If there’s anything wilderness can teach you, it’s the dizzying breadth of what you do not know, and if what you write is to resonate as true there is no lesson more important. So if you’re going to write wilderness, experience it. Respect it. Be prepared and scared and awestruck and relieved. Research. Fact check. Then represent the place you are writing as honestly as you can. You owe it to a world that has lost a sense of true wild.

Jake Slovis earned his MFA in Writing from Rutgers University, where he now teaches English Composition. He is a second-generation Argentine American and has spent significant time living and writing in Buenos Aires. He currently resides in Brooklyn. More from this author →