In this engaging new memoir, a loose sequel to her earlier Prairie Reunion, Barbara Scot explores her reluctance and longing to reconnect with a much-loved brother, lost to alcoholism for thirty years.
Scot uses long, meditative walks on the clothing optional” beach of the idyllic Sauvie Island near Portland, Oregon, to explore family responsibility, time’s passage, and faith. She weaves entries from her notebook a record of the island’s wildlife, descriptions of the Odd Ones” she encounters on the beach, and stories about the native people who once lived on the river with the main narrative, tracing her search for her brother, her close friendship with a fellow writer, and daily life on the houseboat moorage where she lives.
The Nude Beach Notebook highlights the importance of place as a means for exploring and interpreting one’s own story. In the end, Scot’s walks on Sauvie Island lead to her own redemptive journey. She considers the uses of fiction and non-fiction in memory and in writing, the brevity and beauty of human existence, and the inscrutable, enduring mystery of death.
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Barbara J. Scot is the author of The Violet Shyness of their Eyes: Notes from Nepal (winner of the PNBA Book Award); Prairie Reunion (New York Times Notable Book of the Year); The Stations of Still Creek; and Child of Steens Mountain (with Eileen McVicker, OSU Press). She taught public school for twenty-six years and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal. Scot lives with her husband in a houseboat on Sauvie Island, near Portland, Oregon.Review:
As Barbara Scot invites us along on her daily Sauvie Island walks, she deftly weaves together not only her own complicated personal history but the history and life of that beautiful island. And as she asks questions of herself, questions that most of us will have asked of ourselves at some time or another, her story becomes the story of us all, our lives rooted in place and family. The Nude Beach Notebook is just a beautiful book, a book of great heart and intelligence and rigorous honesty an elegant and moving evocation of the ghosts that haunt families, and the spirits inherent in the landscapes where we walk.” Molly Gloss, author of The Jump-Off Creek, The Dazzle of Day, Wild Life, and The Hearts of Horses
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