“Magdalena Mountain” is a novel, a work of fiction, but it contains a good deal of nonfiction, in the sense of the traditional nature writing that people know from my books in the past. That is, one of the main characters is a butterfly, a real butterfly, called the Magdalena alpine. It’s not anthropomorphized, but I do personify one particular member of that species on the high Colorado rock sides where it lives. And short chapters go through the life history of that butterfly in this dramatic setting.
Author interview at Coast Weekend.
3.5 rating based on 99 ratings (all editions)
A rich and rollicking first novel from one of America's most beloved and widely acclaimed nature writers, Robert Michael Pyle
In Magdalena Mountain, Robert Michael Pyle's first and long-awaited novel, the award-winning naturalist proves he is at home in an imagined landscape as he is in the natural one. At the center of this story of majesty and magic in the natural world are three Magdalenas—Mary, a woman whose uncertain journey opens the book; Magdalena Mountain, shrouded in mystery and menace; and the all-black Magdalena Alpine butterfly, the most elusive of several rare and beautiful species found on the mountain.
And high in the Colorado Rocky Mountain wilderness, sharing the remote territory of the Magdalena butterfly, lives the enigmatic Oberon, a reluctant de facto leader of The Grove, a diverse community of monks who share a devotion to Nature. Converging in the same wilderness are October Carson, a beachcomber-wanderer in pursuit of the alpine butterflies he collects for museums; James Mead, a young graduate student intent upon learning the ecology of this seductive creature; and the enigmatic Mary Glanville, who also seeks the butterfly but can't remember why.
While the mystery surrounding Mary takes a menacing turn, their shared quest pulls them deeper into the high mountain wilderness culminating in a harrowing encounter on the stony slopes of Magdalena Mountain.
"Pyle has the ability to find wonder in the mundane and beauty in the unpretentious." —Library Journal
"Pyle's laid-back humor is appealing and his descriptive talents are poetic." —Publishers Weekly