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Book Review :: Dear Park Ranger by Jeff Darren Muse

Guest Post by Susan Kay Anderson

Imagine zoning out during a campfire talk at a National Park, wondering what the ranger’s life is really like during their off-hours. . . This book of essays satisfies some of that curiosity as Jeff Darren Muse takes readers through his life’s journey. Muse offers the ins and outs of his profession through carefully constructed prose and is very entertaining in his telling. In his chapter “SAR Talk,” Muse describes being behind the counter while his co-rangers pack up gear: “The counter is important, I tell myself. The lead ranger put me here because I’m good with people. […] I’ve got a shiny badge that looks like a toy. I’ve got a buzz cut, a thinning hairline. I’m in my own damn storm. On a ledge. Stuck.” Here, Muse is talking about his own anger that has put him “on a ledge.” This writing explores how Muse rescues himself by acknowledging what is around him and what and who has traveled before him. Gary Snyder is one of his role models, and Muse shares private thoughts and experiences walking in Snyder’s footsteps, traveling further and further into ranger adventures.

Dear Park Ranger by Jeff Darren Muse. Wayfarer Books, May 2023.

Reviewer bio: Susan Kay Anderson lives in southwestern Oregon’s Umpqua River Basin. Her long poem “Man’s West Once” was selected for Barrow Street Journal’s “4 X 2 Project” and is included in Mezzanine (2019). Anderson also published Virginia Brautigan Aste’s memoir, Please Plant This Book Coast To Coast (2021).

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