The author of Moby-Duck—which narrated the hunt for tens of thousands of bath toys lost at sea—returns with a collection of ten essays featuring his physical, historical, and emotional journeys through the American landscape.
... a collection of perceptive essays about natural resources, nostalgia and vanishing ways of life ... Not all of Hohn’s essays are memorable. One, about extinct mammoths, is brief yet takes too long to get to the point. But most are excellent. He has a charming attraction to quixotic characters ... insightful.
A Virgil in strange and unwonted places, Hohn now emerges as not only trustworthy, but also just the sort of person you’d want spinning a yarn over a fire in some backwoods fishing camp, and likable, indeed, especially in his larger-hearted moments ... Deftly weaving literature, science, journalism, philosophy, the history of out-the-way locales, arcane skills like canoe building, and no small number of family secrets, Donovan Hohn offers with The Inner Coast a humane view of a world that, as Ernest Hemingway said, is a fine place worth fighting for. And well worth reading about, too, allowing for a few very unfortunate gastropods along the way.
The evocative title...reflects something of the nature of Mr. Hohn’s writing, the fertile ground on which his outward explorations meet up with his natural tendency toward intellectual reflection and interiority—his own inner coast ... powerful...reporting ... Some of the essays collected here feel like fillers or ballast ... Mr. Hohn’s best pieces here are deep dives into narrative nonfiction ... In Mr. Hohn’s lively telling [in 'A Romance of Rust'], all this is plenty riveting, but he takes his essay up a notch by pondering the allure of these outdated but inherently democratic, utilitarian, humble artifacts, which—again invoking Whitman—he dubs 'technological leaves of grass' ... boundaries—between meaning and sentiment, memory and nostalgia—are among the coastlines Mr. Hohn explores in this polished, limpid collection.