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Matthiessen at WNYC New York Public Radio in 2008 promoting his novel Shadow Country
|Born||May 22, 1927|
New York City, New York
|Period||1950 – present|
|Genres||Nature writing, Travel writing,History, Novels|
|Notable work(s)||The Snow Leopard|
Peter Matthiessen (born May 22, 1927, in New York City) is an American novelist, naturalist, and wilderness writer. A co-founder of the literary magazine The Paris Reviewand a three-time National Book Award-winner, he has also been a prominent environmental activist. His nonfiction has featured nature and travel -- notably The Snow Leopard (1978) -- or American Indian issues and history -- notably a detailed and controversial study of the Leonard Peltier case, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (1983). His fiction has occasionally been adapted for film: the early story "Travelin' Man" was made into The Young One (1960) by Luis Buñuel and the novel At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1965) into the 1991 film of the same name.
In 2008, at age 81, Matthiessen received the National Book Award for Fiction for Shadow Country, a one-volume, 890-page revision of his three novels set in frontier Florida that had been published in the 1990s.
According to critic Michael Dirda, "No one writes more lyrically [than Matthiessen] about animals or describes more movingly the spiritual experience of mountaintops, savannas, and the sea."
An incredible writer, Peter is also a follower of Zen/Buddhism, a Zen monk and has written the book Zen Journals, excerpts from Nine-Headed Dragon River. In the intro by Bernie Glassman Bernie says, "Peter Matthiessen came to us from his own illustrious dharma family. Upon giving Peter priest ordination, Maezumi-roshi had given him the Dharma name of Muryo, which means, "boundless." Muryo began his studies with the remarkable Rinzai master Soen Makagawa, and with his student and successor, Eldo Shimano. Our visit to Soen-rosh was one of the highlights of that trip.
On our return from Japan, Muryo was going to lead the first ango or Zen intensive, at the Zen Community of New York, thus becoming my first senior student, and I hoped he would finish his studies with me and become my first Dharma successor." Which he did.in 1991.
The book Nine-Headed Dragon River captures the details and flavor of their pilgrimage back to Japan and the Zen masters. A very recommended reading.