Daddy Long Legs: The Natural Education of a Father

“John Price has a precious ability to distill--gently, scrupulously—the heroism and beauty from his ordinary life in an ordinary place in the middle of America. Daddy Long Legs is an everyman’s tale demonstrating the upside of Tolstoy’s famous line: happy families are all alike. Thank goodness for gifted storytellers who can depict the good luck and hard work of being a member of one of those families.” --Kurt Andersen, author of True Believers and host of Studio 360

“Like America’s best essayists—think E. B. White—John Price’s side-splitting stories about his family develop in their own time into heart-rending reflections on living and dying, and why living must be whole-hearted if it is to be anything at all, and why dying can be as beautiful as an emerging moth.” --Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Wild Comfort

“This gentle, ingenuous, and funny memoir of a flawed father is as Midwestern as the Loess Hills, and as universal as family itself. From worms to wings, mantids to spiders, dads to kids, John Price parses the natural history of a human family in all its mortality and wider habitat as well as anyone I’ve read in years.” --Robert Michael Pyle, author of The Thunder Tree and Mariposa Road

“Filled with grace, deep compassion, and the necessary consolation of the natural world, John Price’s Daddy Long Legs is a wise and articulate portrait of family and fatherhood. If this book had wings, it would settle gently onto your chest, just above the heart.” --Dinty W. Moore, author of The Mindful Writer

“John Price has long been the funniest man in the nature business. Now he’s gotten personal and invited us into the fascinating ecosystem that is his family, a world of bugs and woodchucks, children and parents. With his characteristic wit, and a little wisdom, too, he weaves family and nature into a beautiful and inspiring story of growth.” --David Gessner, author of Return of the Osprey

“In the ‘no-kill zone’ surrounding John Price’s house and yard, his kids attach freely and fiercely to bugs, tadpoles, and guy dolls. What he and his wife are really creating is a no-kill zone for the heart. Read this funny, wrenching testimony on the doubts, humiliations, and joys of committed fatherhood as you would any fine literature. But read it also as a manual on how to unearth, then build upon, your own foundations in family and place.” --Julene Bair, author of One Degree West: Reflections of a Plainsdaughter

“When Dante wandered lost in a dark wood midway through the journey of life, he was led back onto the path by the poet Virgil. John Price was led out of his own dark wood by less famous guides—his rambunctious sons, his patient wife, a wise grandmother, countless wild creatures, and the Midwestern prairie. With grace and wit, he tells in these pages the story of how the love of people and land restored his sense of purpose, his courage in the face of loss, and his joy in living. It is an ancient story, made fresh.” --Scott Russell Sanders, author of Earth Works: New& Selected Essays

“Price is a powerful, elegant writer…this book is really less about fatherhood than death, really. And the history of the American Midwest. And the spiritual connection Price feels with the Savannah-like plains there. He weaves these themes throughout the book, flashing back to his childhood and even times before he was born, tying his separate strands into tight bows at the end of each chapter so that they resonate.” --Dave Bry, The New Republic

“Like many people, Price is overwhelmed with work, a shortage of money and the responsibilities that come with being a parent and a spouse. But after he suffers a heart attack scare, his wife encourages him to rethink his priorities, to let go of his drivenness and cynicism, and to live with more gratitude — for his marriage, his family and his friends. This is easier said than done, yet the reason the book is so engaging is that Price, like the rest of us, never quite gets it right. He's honest and funny. . . Against [the] stories of his immediate family, Price also explores the larger context of his own childhood and familial roots in Iowa. His parents still live in his hometown, Fort Dodge, and he often brings his sons to visit. It is there, at book's end, when Price's grandmother dies, that childhood and parenthood converge. In that moment of death and loss…Price brilliantly depicts the gift of letting go, of continuity, by revealing the resilient presence of his own family/​childhood. He watches his sons sitting around the same huge maple tree where he sat as a boy and remembers a time when he "had yet to appreciate the gap between aspiration and reality" and "had not yet relinquished courage and hope." This memory is a great comfort. It seems to both sustain him — to hold him up — and to push him forward into the future perils of fatherhood.” --Tom Montgomery Fate, The Chicago Tribune

Selected Works

Nature Anthology
“Finally, here is a lovingly gathered bouquet of prairie wildflowers. This collection does not stop at commemorating all that we’ve lost, but revives the wildness in our imaginations—the first step toward restorative action.”—Julene Bair, author, The Ogallala Road
Memoir
"If David Sedaris and Annie Dillard had a literary love child and raised him in Iowa, he would write like this." The Iowan
Memoir
“…Price knows how to find beauty in quiet moments…A winsome, perceptive coming-of-age memoir.” Kirkus
“[A]n environmentalist version of The Pilgrim’s Progress.” Virginia Quarterly Review

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