Tom Montgomery Fate
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Cabin Fever

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About Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever book cover
Try to imagine Thoreau married, with a job, three kids, and a minivan. This is the serious yet irreverent sensibility that suffuses Cabin Fever, as the author seeks to apply the hermit-philosopher’s insights to a busy modern life.

Tom Montgomery Fate lives in a Chicago suburb, where he is a husband, father, professor, and active member of his community. He also lives in a cabin built with the help of friends in the Michigan woods, where he walks by the river, chops wood, and reads Thoreau by candle light.

A seasonal nature memoir, Cabin Fever takes readers on a search for the wild both in the woods and within ourselves. Although we are often estranged from nature in our daily lives, Fate shows that we can still recover our kinship with the earth and its other inhabitants if we are willing to pay attention.

In his exploration of how we are to live "a more deliberate life" amid a high-tech material world, Fate invites readers into an interrogation of their own lives, and into a new kind of vision: the possibility of enough in a culture of more.


Praise for Cabin Fever

“This quietly marvelous book is really a mystery novel at heart. The mystery is How to live?  Tom Montgomery Fate, a self-described 'slow and bumbling pilgrim,' sets out to answer this question, meandering, with Thoreau as his companion, toward the truth--or more accurately, the truths.  Thoreau has never been more relevant than he is today, and what a pleasure to follow the two of them sleuthing toward something solid in these fickle and shifting times.”        
      — David Gessner, author of Sick of Nature

"In Cabin Fever, Tom Montgomery Fate has written a book as wise as it is charming.  Fate, in his deeply informed dialogue with Thoreau, never dodges the many realities of American middle-class existence that might lead to a life of quiet desperation.  Still, Cabin Fever is finally not a book about avoiding desperation, but achieving balance.” 
      — Stuart Dybek, author of I Sailed with Magellan

“With Thoreau as his guide, Tom Montgomery Fate explores a wild territory where Henry himself never dared to venture: marriage, parenthood, and the suburban backyard.  Along the way, he shows us how to embrace the challenges of our world, and our daily lives, with new grace, restoring us to the place where we should all be living: in gratitude and wonder.  A profound and beautiful book.”
      — John T. Price, author of Man Killed by Pheasant and Other Kinships

“Tom Montgomery Fate resonates with Thoreau without needing to be Thoreau. His Cabin Fever echoes Walden without pretense. It is a book for our time by a writer of our time. Fate proves himself against his transcendental literary ancestor and in the process gives us a contemporary book of thought, hope and promise. Cabin Fever is an antidote to the ills of the day.”
     — Jeffrey S. Cramer, editor of Walden: A Fully-Annotated Edition and Curator of The Thoreau Institute

“…frank, poignant, and funny. Fate’s clarion musings on place, time, family, social responsibility, the wild, and the civilized are thoughtful and affecting in their revelations of how complex and precious life is.”
     —Donna Seaman, Booklist

“Quiet, beautifully written reflections on nature and the mindful life...."
    —Kirkus Reviews

“There are real gems of insight and wit on the diverse topics… Never snide or condescending, Fate blends the significant milestones of marriage and family in a high-tech BlackBerry society with the joys and shortcomings of being mindful in both cultures.”
    —Publishers Weekly

“If Tom Montgomery Fate has not found the secret formula for the deliberate, balanced  life, he is a chief disciple of the search.”  
    —Chicago Tribune

“The tone of Fate’s writing is serious and thoughtful, yet laced with some humor. … Fate is introspective and writes in a lyrical manner, offering much food for thought in this multi-layered, 'how to live' memoir.”
     —Foreword Reviews

 “May touch a chord in a desperate urban-dweller's heart … may also show … that Mother Earth's bosom is not always welcoming to mere humans.”
     —Wall Street Journal

 “What makes Cabin Fever such good reading is that the author doesn’t try to be a modern-day Thoreau…The magic of Cabin Fever is the author’s willingness to move back and forth between the two worlds of hectic suburbs and the more isolated nature-soaked cabin.”
     —Christian Century

Cabin Fever is a quietly stunning book.…with elegant and rhythmic prose … Fate’s admission that he is a 'slow and bungling pilgrim' serves as an admonition and a blessing to his readers to go and live, even if imperfectly, this one blessed life we’ve been given.”

“His account of a quest for a ‘more deliberate life,’ inspired by a re-reading of Thoreau’s Walden several years ago, is refreshingly modest but also aching with yearning for the Home we all desire.”
     —Christianity Today

 “I grew fond fast of this book, and it’s hard not to. Fate…brings coyotes and cougars to the page in a thoughtful, beautiful prose that’s readable, lyrical, and begs the reader to slow down and take their time. The book is a wide, deep river….”

To purchase Cabin Fever

Go to Beacon Press, Indiebound, Prairie Lights Bookstore, The Bookstore, or Amazon.

About Cabin Fever  |  Excerpts from the Book Readings and Events |  Study Guide
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