By Vanessa V. Friedman
January 17, 1997 at 05:00 AM EST

A Slender Thread


A SLENDER THREAD Diane Ackerman (Random House, $24) Anyone who doubts the essential similarities between man and beast should read Ackerman (A Natural History of the Senses). Naturalist, essayist, poet, and ex-hippie, she is a profound and generous observer of the world around her; no moment, be it a squirrel weighing nuts in its paws or the break in someone’s voice over the phone, is too small or mundane to escape her penetrating eye and meditating mind. In Thread, working as a counselor on a small town’s suicide prevention hotline, she describes hours spent talking on the telephone to disembodied strangers as they dump the misery of their lives into nonjudgmental, understanding ears. Other people’s depressions could make for depressing reading, but Ackerman, whose empathy is seemingly boundless, manages to turn her small victories into affirmations of humanity’s endless ability to hope. And, as always, all the blues can be swept away by her vibrant prose — whether she’s describing the light changing in her yard or cross-country skiing in the moonlight to a Beethoven sonata. In her mind, these things are related; they enhance and reflect each other, linked by the fragile filament of life. A — Vanessa V. Friedman

A Slender Thread

  • Book
  • Diane Ackerman
Complete Coverage
  • A Slender Thread