Great Nonfiction: The Outermost House, by Henry Beston

The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Naturalist Henry Beston spent a year living alone in his tiny cottage, The Fo’castle, on the dunes of Cape Cod. The Outermost House is his meditative account of the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions, that he experienced during the four seasons of that year. Not a book to be read through in a single sitting, each chapter evokes the essence of a different aspect of his beach. My favorite Beston’s essay on waves, which I will never again view as prosaic. Similarly, his description of the ever changing scents and smells of that environment has prompted me to pay more attention to that sense each time I visit the ocean. Beston was a poet before becoming a naturalist, and his prose is, of course, lyrical. But he also stressed the need for humans to respect nature, deploring the pollution that was already so evident in 1928.

Recommended for anyone who loves the ocean, any ocean. Those who would like some accompanying illustration are referred to The Fo’c’sle: Henry Beston’s “Outermost House”, by Nan Parson Rossiter.



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