Editor’s note: We are launching an occasional feature, In Review. It could be a book, it could be a product, or it could be anything that warrants a review. That said, we are giving away an autographed copy of Dana Wilde’s “The Other End of the Driveway.” See the end of this review for how to enter the drawing.
• By John F. Chisholm •
I must have met dozens of college professors. I’m still acquainted with two, one of whom is my brother-in-law. Poor soul, he has no choice but to admit to the association. All those other relationships were mutually scarring. That’s certainly not completely the professors’ faults.
Alas! My inability to put college behind me reared its homely head again. “The Other End of the Driveway,” a slim perfect-bound paperback by college professor Dana Wilde, found its way onto my desk by odd string of circumstance, misadventure and fate.
Unfortunately I read the back cover first with its short bio on the author. “He taught college English for years in Maine and Eastern Europe.” I was instantly on guard.
Then I read the preface. Another mistake. The fashionable, overblown descriptions, the immodest self-comparisons to Robert Frost and Henry Thoreau and unsubtle references to eyes, “Schooled to doctoral level,” set my back on edge. Every ill experience with all those misbegotten professors in my past rushed to the fore. With fear and trepidation I opened the book to the middle, took a deep breath and sampled an essay.
I read about cats. Relief coursed through my veins. I continued, exploring naming conventions, butterflies and spiders. With growing interest I kept at it, reading of goldenrod and galaxies, Queen Mauve’s tomb and Ursa Major with real enjoyment.
The book is casually arranged by season more than subject. Essays flash by with brief, illuminating digressions thrown in along the way. The chorus of whippoorwills is remembered with regret for their disappearing habitat. If you listen, you can hear their mournful evening calls accompanying their declining numbers. The fate of meadow larks and bobolinks are tied in with grace and shared concern.
“The Other End of the Driveway” is an easy read after all, with interest and education overtaking you unaware, exactly the way they should.
I highly recommend it.
Do yourself a favor though. Skip the preface.
The Facebook page for “The Other End of the Driveway” is located here.