Field of Vision

“These are essays in the best and truest sense, assays, distillations, at once learned and personal. Lisa Knopp vividly demonstrates how encounters with the mundane details of nature—a mole's nose, the shell of a turtle, the tail of an opossum—can yield a richer and deeper life. She teaches us, by her own patient and inquiring example, how to see. This is the freshest and brightest collection of natural essays I have read in many years.”—Paul Gruchow, author of Grass Roots: The Universe of Home


In her first collection of nature essays, Knopp offers 16 pieces filled with the evidence not only of books but also of the eyes, ears, nose and taste buds to give a multidimensional view of nature. ... Knopp, like Eiseley, Burroughs, and Dillard, addresses the central question of American nature writing: how to "see herself in the natural world but also see the natural world of herself." — Publishers Weekly

A collection of essays on vision, not from the standpoint of the visual scientist but from the perspective of an observant writer. ... Some of the essays are clearly autobiographical. Others are less directly so, but all are the product of Knopp's personal observations. Her writing style is clear, engaging, and at times almost poetic. ... This work is reminiscent of The Object Stares Back, by James Elkins, except that the latter is from the viewpoint of the art historian. — Choice

Lisa Knopp wants "to see the mundane as profoundly new," to "see and record the wild places I know before they are gone. Each day, I am reminded that the natural world is vanishing." Knopp, who wrote [this] book while living in Nebraska, and now teaches at Southern Illinois University, presents a series of essays linked, she finds only after writing them, by their common exploration of "the act of seeing." ... Wearing her erudition lightly, Knopp leads readers through meditations that begin and end in close observation but fly in all directions in between. She is the kind of writer whom I would follow on any subject, confident that she could teach me new lays of a land I thought already familiar, as well as lead me into altogether new territory. — Women's Review of Books