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Wed Nov 27, 2019, 09:17 AM

Book Review: 'America's Most Alarming Writer: Essays on the Life and Work of Charles Bowden'

Seated at the Mexican cafe with the defendants from the day's Earth First! trial, I didn't know who Charles Bowden was. I was thrilled that I was meeting someone who just came off the Sea Shepherd. As soon as Chuck began to speak in his rhythmic raspy voice about the unromantic soggy ride on the rough seas, I knew who he was.

He was the best writer that I would ever meet.

In the new book, "America's Most Alarming Writer, Essays on the Life and Work of Charles Bowden," Chuck's friends, family, editors and publishers tell stories of the man whose deep root and cause for being, like the revolutionary Che, was love.

It was the cadence of his voice -- the rhythmic musical quality of his voice -- that bound Chuck to his readers, says journalism professor Todd Schack of Ithaca College in New York.

In his essay, Schack says Chuck's literary legacy is "the way he invites us into this space with the smooth cadence of his voice, then nails the door shut behind us."

Chuck wrote, "My dream is to invite a reader into a room and pour a nice cup of tea ... and then nail the door shut."

It was not merely the sound of his voice that made Bowden one of the greatest writers of our time. As his sister, wife, friends, editors and publishers point out, he was a historian and disciplined writer. There was the almost Ph.D. and an insatiable appetite for facts and wonder. Disciplined far more than most reporters and authors, he rose at 3 or 4 a.m. and pounded out his soul.


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