The River You Touch: Making a Life on Moving Water (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Reading Chris Dombrowski’s memoir, The River You Touch, felt like coming home. If you know me or have spent any time with me, there is a good chance that I’ve told you of my days living outside Yellowstone National Park in Montana. My husband and I spent the better part of a decade fly fishing, exploring and loving every second of our life on the edge of everything wild and wondrous. As things go, we started a family and life shifted us back to Michigan as proximity to family was important. Dombrowski’s story is so similar!  A Michigan transplant that couldn’t resist the allure of the west, he ended up in Missoula, Montana, with his soon-to-be wife, where they, too, were taken in by the magic of the place where they also started a family. His story is an exploration of fatherhood, wild places, choices we make as humans raising other humans. His writing is poetic—the way he writes about rivers floored me being a lover of moving water myself. I highly recommend this poetic memoir to anyone that appreciates nature writing as well as anyone parenting young people and balancing who we are in the midst of it.  —Rachel

— From Staff Favorites List Spring 2024


"We are matter and long to be received by an Earth that conceived us, which accepts and reconstitutes us, its children, each of us, without exception, every one. The journey is long, and then we start homeward, fathomless as to what home might make of us."--from The River You TouchWhen Chris Dombrowski burst onto the literary scene with Body of Water, the book was acclaimed as "a classic" (Jim Harrison) and its author compared with John McPhee. Dombrowski begins the highly anticipated The River You Touch with a question as timely as it is profound: "What does a meaningful, mindful, sustainable inhabitance on this small planet look like in the Anthropocene?"He answers this fundamental question of our time initially by listening lovingly to rivers and the land they pulse through in his adopted home of Montana. Transplants from the post-industrial Midwest, he and his partner, Mary, assemble a life based precariously on her income as a schoolteacher, his as a poet and fly-fishing guide. Before long, their first child arrives, followed soon after by two more, all "free beings in whom flourishes an essential kind of knowing ...], whose capacity for wonder may be the beacon by which we see ourselves through this dark epoch." And around the young family circles a community of friends--river-rafting guides and conservationists, climbers and wildlife biologists--who seek to cultivate a way of living in place that moves beyond the mythologized West of appropriation and extraction.Moving seamlessly from the quotidian--diapers, the mortgage, a threadbare bank account--to the metaphysical--time, memory, how to live a life of integrity--Dombrowski illuminates the experience of fatherhood with intimacy and grace. Spending time in wild places with their children, he learns that their youthful sense of wonder at the beauty and connectivity of the more-than-human world is not naivete to be shed, but rather wisdom most of us lose along the way--wisdom that is essential for the possibility of transformation.

About the Author

Chris Dombrowski is the author of The River You Touch. He is also the author of Body of Water: A Sage, A Seeker, and the World's Most Elusive Fish, and of three acclaimed collections of poems. Currently the Director of the Creative Writing program at the University of Montana, he lives with his family in Missoula.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781639550852
ISBN-10: 1639550852
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Publication Date: October 31st, 2023
Pages: 304
Language: English