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'Nature Noir' author speaks at Rocklin Library's book club

By: Eileen Wilson, Special to The Placer Herald
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“He lifted the ball and extended his throwing arm, firing the ball perfectly toward the car. It flew through the open passenger-side window and disappeared inside the speeding vehicle.” No, this isn’t a recounting of a game of football. Author Jordan Fisher Smith was referencing a human infant in his first chapter of his book, a memoir, “ Nature Noir: A Park Ranger’s Patrol in the Sierra,” which was the subject of Rocklin Book Club’s recent discussion. A room full of eager book enthusiasts greeted Fisher Smith, as book club regulars and newcomers alike, took turns commenting and questioning the author about his days as a park ranger in Auburn State Recreation Area, an area that was slated to be drown by the Auburn Dam in the mid ‘80s. Fisher Smith’s book recounts the good, the bad, and the ugly, very ugly, that took place in the hidden nooks and elusive crannies that encompassed the 20-mile long park where the North Fork and Middle Fork of the American River collide. Possibly the most notorious characters in “Nature Noir,” though under pseudonyms, are Janet Kovacich, who went missing in 1982, and her husband, then Placer County Sheriff Deputy Paul Kovacich, who was recently convicted of Janet’s first degree murder. While this month’s book selection was, admittedly “dark” according to Fisher Smith, members were fascinated by the narrative non-fiction, and some attendees said they are looking forward to reading the author’s as yet untitled next book, about the future of America’s wilderness. And Rocklinites aren’t the only ones who obviously enjoy Fisher Smith’s writing style. With 77 book signings in 13 states, the Sierra Nevada resident is in frequent demand. “I tell people my book is nature writing, but people die,” the author said. “Landscape and people’s stories are inseparable.” And Rocklin Book Club members are inseparable from their books as well. The Book Club, which began more than two years ago, and meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. has a core of regulars, and always welcomes new members. Books are selected by Senior Librarian Eve Alison Nyren, who takes members’ suggestions and interests in to account when selecting the books each month. Nyren said she knows how important book clubs are to the community. “People in the club read books they otherwise wouldn’t, and learn about themselves and the world by doing so,” she said. The club is comprised of a cross section of the community, and includes working people as well as retired men and women. “It’s a good mix,” Nyren said. Next up for Rocklin’s book club is Lisa See’s top-selling novel “Peony in Love,” on Dec. 1, a meeting, which the author will participate by telephone conference In April, the library will utilize the Big Read Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and will have a month-long series of events centered on Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” Copies of “Fahrenheit 451” will be available for book clubs and community groups. “I love the members’ warmth and intelligence. We have great discussions, including when people disagree. It’s fun,” Nyren said. Nyren encourages anyone interested in the club and future reading selections to visit the library’s Web site.