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Award-winning author Matthiessen to speak at ISU Oct. 19

Posted October 17, 2007

Award-winning author, naturalist and wilderness writer Peter Matthiessen will speak at Idaho State University on Friday, Oct. 19.

Matthiessen’s address, titled “A Naturalist’s Impressions of the Wildman,” will include the author’s insights about Yeti and Sasquatch. It will start at 7:30 p.m. at Goranson Hall on the Pocatello campus’ Fine Arts Building, and be followed by a question and answer session and a book signing. The ISU Bookstore will have a table stocked with Matthiessen’s titles.

Admission is free for students, $2 for faculty and staff, and $3 for the general public. Matthiessen’s appearance is sponsored by the ISU Speakers and Artists Committee; ISU Student Activities Board; Fort Hall Casino; departments of biological sciences, anthropology, English and geosciences; Idaho Museum of Natural History and North American Ape Project.

It would be difficult to name an author with more varied interests than Matthiessen. His 1978 book, “Snow Leopard,” set in the remote regions of Nepal, won both the National and American Book Awards. “Blue Meridian: The Search for the Great White Shark,” (1971) documented the making of a film considered to have inspired Peter Benchley to write “Jaws.”

Matthiessen’s 1983 book, “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,” about the events at Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1973, was blocked except for the initial printing until a long libel suit was settled in 1990.

In “Crazy Horse,” Matthiessen mentioned native traditions including encounters with “Big Men,” the local expression for the Sasquatch. He had previously made veiled references to Yeti in “Snow Leopard,” and devoted a chapter to the subject in “East of Lo Monthang: In the Land of the Mustangs,” which is set in Tibet.

Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, is the name given Sasquatch in the mountains of Nepal, Tibet and the surrounding area.

In 1953, Matthiessen joined with George Plimpton, Harold Humes, Thomas Guinzberg and Donald Hall to found the literary magazine “The Paris Review.” He later admitted that at the time he was a young C.I.A. recruit and used the magazine as his cover.