“Far Flung: Improvisations on National Parks, Driving to Russia, Not Marrying a Ranger, the Language of Heartbreak, and Other Natural Disasters" was published earlier this year by West Virginia Press and draws from Kircher's travels and her time as a park ranger.
Professor of English Cassie Kircher introduced an excerpt of her new book “Far Flung: Improvisations on National Parks, Driving to Russia, Not Marrying a Ranger, the Language of Heartbreak, and Other Natural Disasters,” during her first reading at Elon on Wednesday, Sept. 11.
Kircher read her piece “My Father and I Take a Vacation,” one of the last essays in the book that recounts when Kircher and her father took a trip to an island in northern Wisconsin. It touches on her relationship with her father and how she came to understand his complex personality as a young adult.
“A 24-year-old figuring out her own life has no business trying to make an unhappy man happy, especially one who often lashes out in rage at his family and doesn’t understand that he has,” Kircher read to the audience.
She also discusses her family history in the essay.
“Over the years I’ve grown up assuming that my ancestors were well-respected both on and off the island. My grandfather was president of a small-town bank. All of his sons, except my father, ended up as presidents of small-towns banks too,” Kircher read from her book.
This essay was the second-to-last piece she wrote to complete the book, she said.
“It actually gives you parameters because if it’s based on your life, you can’t write about just anything. I like having a little bit of order or boundary.”
– Professor of English Cassie Kircher
“Far Flung” is a collection of 13 essays split into two sections: “Near” and “Far.” The first section, “Near” is about her time in Colorado in Rocky Mountain National Park as a park ranger. “Far”, expands into her adventures in other locations, but her time in Colorado still plays a crucial role.
“No matter what I was writing about, Russian adoption or Wisconsin, wherever I was, Colorado sort of reared its head,” Kircher said.
Kircher’s essays are creative nonfiction which she said is when writers “put truth into the narrative” and is often called the “fourth genre.”
Kircher was initially introduced to creative nonfiction by a professor and was drawn to the genre because it allowed her a framework for her writing.
“It actually gives you parameters because if it’s based on your life, you can’t write about just anything,” Kircher said. “I like having a little bit of order or boundary.”
She has read parts of “Far Flung” to audiences in bookstores and universities in Santa Barbara, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Denver. She also did a reading at the Greensboro Bound Literary Festival this past May.
“Far Flung” was especially well-received in the West as audiences recognized the locations in her pieces, Kircher said.
Kircher’s work has been previously published in North Dakota Quarterly, South Dakota Review, Cold Mountain Review, Flyway and the anthology “Permanent Vacations.”