A college professor gets more than he bargains for when he picks up a dusty, dog-eared copy of the American classic Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
Proud postmodern consumer and card-carrying member of the “I Hate Nature” Club, Michael Gurnow is content in his role as American literature professor. Everything changes once he gets done reading Thoreau’s masterpiece. Realizing he has been living a life of quiet desperation, it occurs to him that even though it’s his job to teach tales of others people’s adventures, he hasn’t lived any of his own.
Without a second thought, Gurnow hands in his resignation before driving to the nearest state park and applies to be the wilderness equivalent of a construction worker. “How hard can trail maintenance be?” he asks himself. “It’s a minimum-wage job.”
By assuming the role of Nature’s Housekeeper, Gurnow quickly learns there’s a difference between book smarts and common sense. In this mile-a-minute comedy of errors, Gurnow discovers why it’s a bad idea to get into a fistfight with a mudslide, horny hornets are a force to be reckoned with, being able to identify poison ivy is a grossly undervalued skill, and you can’t outrun deer—even if you’re naked.
Gurnow compresses several hard-won years in the wilderness into four, side-splitting seasons. With his newly minted critical eye toward consumer culture, he reveals the surprisingly complex world of trail maintenance while taking the reader on a guided, philosophic tour of the nature classics.
“Michael Gurnow’s eco-comedy Nature’s Housekeeper made me think of the Cullinan. Not a single 540-carat diamond but rather 540 one-carat diamonds. A treasury of mind-expanding adventures, full of wisdom and sudden insights that will take you by surprise.” ~Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael and The Story of B
“Laughing my survival a## off page-by-page, Gurnow’s Nature’s Housekeeper made me want to go live and work in the woods . . . oh wait a minute, that’s what I do!” ~ Survivorman, Les Stroud, author of Survive!
“Michael Gurnow gives us a laugh-out-loud, page-turning memoir with Nature’s Housekeeper and proof that a physical return to the outdoors can provide simplicity and fulfillment. This is a must-read for anyone looking to reconnect with nature or hoping to see wilderness through a different lens.” ~ Jennifer Pharr Davis, author of Becoming Odyssa
“Thoreau meets Hunter S. Thompson in Nature’s Housekeeper, Michael Gurnow’s witty addition to the naturalist shelf. And just like that Transcendentalist blue-jay Thoreau, Gurnow teaches you a D.I.Y. survival trick or three while making you laugh your copperheads off.” ~ Ron Dakron, author of Hello Devilfish!
“This is the power of Gurnow’s Nature’s Housekeeper: It uses humor to communicate, in subtle ways at first, and more poignantly at the end, the why, where, and how of developing a deeper and richer understanding of humanity’s role in becoming better stewards of the Earth. And that is definitely worth a read!” ~ Buddy Huffaker, President & Executive Director, The Aldo Leopold Foundation
“Nature’s Housekeeper pulls off the difficult and unique feat of marrying comedy, wilderness philosophy, and practical trail work into one entertaining and informative whole. Packed with humorous incidents, stories, and comments, the book had me laughing out loud, yet at the same time the central tale of how a virulently anti-nature, city-loving college professor overcomes his loathing of wild places through reading Thoreau (backed up later by Annie Dillard and Aldo Leopold) and, 1960s style, drops out of academia to become a trail maintenance worker is moving and intellectually profound. Beyond the comedy there is great depth here and much to ponder.” ~ Chris Townsend, author of the award-winning The Backpacker’s Handbook and editor for The Great Outdoors magazine
“Gurnow’s metamorphosis from urbanite to woodsman will leave you in stitches! Nature’s Housekeeper entertains every step of the way and may even leave you with a burning desire to get outside – or at least a burning desire to get rid of that poison ivy rash.” ~ Lawton Grinter, host of ‘The Trail Show’ and author of I Hike
“With his acclaimed wit and clarity, Michael Gurnow synthesizes academic disciplines to awaken the reader, forcing his audience to reconsider two crucial areas—Nature (brutalized by us) and materialism (which brutalizes us). Read, rethink, change and “regain paradise!’” ~ Betty F. Cooper, Ph.D.; educator, activist, facilitator, dopeace.us.
“Reading Nature’s Housekeeper is like sitting around the table sharing drinks and laughing with Thoreau, Herriot, Twain, Abbey, and Lenny Bruce. But be sure to wipe those laughter-sponsored tears from your eyes every once in a while because Gurnow’s adventure is nothing short of a hero’s journey that would make Joseph Campbell proud.” ~Brian King, Founder & Director, Wilderness Skills Institute
Michael Gurnow is a former literature and pre-law professor whose linguistic training was overseen by an active NSA language analyst. A noted environmentalist and film critic whose work Pulitzer-recipient Roger Ebert called “very admirable,” Gurnow’s award-winning writing spans such topics as national security, veterinary legislation, and overpopulation. His first book,The Edward Snowden Affair, was an international bestseller, while his sophomore effort, Nature’s Housekeeper, was dubbed “Thoreau meets Hunter S. Thompson” by Ron Dakron, author of Hello Devilfish!, and “intellectually profound yet outrageously funny” by Chris Townsend, author of The Backpacker’s Handbook.