The Hopes of Snakes

& Other Tales from the Urban Landscape

The Hopes of Snakes

& Other Tales from the Urban Landscape


Beacon Press
Publication Date: 1/12/2006
ISBN: 978-080708565-3

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In The Hopes of Snakes, Lisa Couturier celebrates the stories of forgotten, overlooked animals who have adapted nobly to city and suburban life in the Northeast. With sharp perception and deep humanity, she has found what is so remarkable in the nature we see most often and illuminated it like no one before her. The Hopes of Snakes is an eloquent and powerful debut by one of the best new writers exploring nature in the humanized landscape.

The Hopes of Snakes

Reviews and Praise

The Oregonian 
“Beautiful, intelligent, and literary . . . this book is a wondrous pleasure . . . it has the ability to shift the way you look at the natural world. The Hopes of Snakes belongs on the bookshelf next to Edward Abbey’s The Serpents of Paradise and Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and, like those, is a book to savor, to know, to love and to share.”

Publishers Weekly
“Couturier enters the terrain staked out by Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Terry Tempest Williams in Refuge. In these moving essays, Couturier does not so much domesticate the wilderness as reveal the wildness within the domestic.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Couturier lyrically renders . . . life in each finely tuned essay.”

“Couturier is an artist at discovering little bits of Nature in the city.”

Spirituality & Practice
“With polished prose and a soaring imagination, Couturier . . . . [makes] a good case for seeing animals not as inferior creatures but as spiritual teachers and fellow travelers on the adventure of life in urban America.”

Rain Taxi
“Love such as Couturier feels for animals is more than mercy; it is in the larger sense an erotic field. . . . pleasure suffuses the book, along with pity for the doomed beloved.”

The Washington Post
The Hopes of Snakes is“a series of meditations on the largely unnoticed fauna of American cities and suburbs, written from a sense of intense, personal connection to these still-wild creatures. On the page and in person, [Couturier] works to transmit that connection to others . . . . Her book . . . is a testament to the determination with which she pulled this off.”

 USA Today
“The essays combine nature writing, philosophy, theology and feminism . . . the writing is lyrical, even when Couturier explores the ecology of New York’s subways.”

Mary Oliver, Pulitzer-Prize winning poet
“Couturier’s essays shine with her candor, her perception, and her affection for the creatures of our world. Whether the subject is a snake or a falcon or a crow named Edgar, these essays will both enlighten and give much reading pleasure.”


John A. Murray, editor of the American Nature Writing series
“In her mastery of the essay as an expressive form, and in the power and sincerity of her thinking, Couturier has established herself as the literary equal of such contemporary luminaries as Linda Hogan, Diane Ackerman and Barbara Kingsolver.”


Pattiann Rogers, author of Holy Heathen Rhapsody
“The Hopes of Snakes is . . . skillfully and finely crafted, full of wonder, full of creature hope and human hope.”


Lorraine Anderson, editor of Sisters of the Earth: Women’s Prose and Poetry About Nature
“Lisa Couturier writes with grace and heart. . . . Following the instincts of a woman’s body . . . she teaches us to see the worth and beauty of creatures that are commonly despised, feared, or ignored. It’s impossible to read this book without gaining a new appreciation of the interrelationships that infuse the most degraded of landscapes.”