Barry Lopez, living in rural Western Oregon, is a fiction writer focusing on issues of intimacy, ethics, and identity. His works have been compared to Henry David Thoreau by the way Lopez connects with his surroundings and through his environmental and humanitarian concerns. Lopez gave a reading at the Ashland High School Theatre on Friday, April 20, 2012.
The reading was introduced differentiating the importance of writers: either a social or an artistic influence on an audience. As an author, one is either a reader’s authority or companion. Lopez defines literature as “dilemmas of life” where the reader finds himself or herself more content at the end of a story. In literature where human efforts try to make patterns of what we are trying to do in the world even if it indicates sadness, those patterns must accommodate and resonate with the reader.
I liked Barry Lopez’s reading and ideas. In an American culture where, as he says, “people are [like] commodities” sucked into a vortex of fame and commerce, he is not against industrialization and its impact on the environment; Barry Lopez is more concerned with a microcosm of environmental issues: for everyone to love everyone. He claims “diversity is necessary for life,” but we must all collaborate as one “planetary heartbeat.”