Cabin Fever might be described as a modern Walden, if you can imagine Thoreau married, with a job, three kids, and a minivan. A seasonal memoir written alternately from a little cabin in the Michigan woods and a house in suburban Chicago, the book engages readers in a serious yet irreverent conversation about Thoreau's relevance in the modern age.
The author turns Thoreau's immortal statement "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately" on its head with the phrase "I got married and had children because I wished to live deliberately." Though Fate spends half his time at the cabin, this is no world-renouncing, back-to-nature paean. Unlike Thoreau during his Walden years, he balances his solitude with full engagement in family and civic life.
Fate's writing reflects this balancing of nature and family in stories such as "The Confused Cardinal," in which a male cardinal feeds chicks of another species and leads to a reflection on parenting; "In the Time of Cicadas," which juxtaposes his wife's hysterectomy with the burgeoning fecundity of the seventeen-year cicadas coming out to mate; and in a beautiful essay reminiscent of E. B. White's "Once More to the Lake," in which Fate takes his son to the same cabin his father took him as a child.
In his exploration of how we are to live "a more deliberate life" amid a high-tech, materialist culture, Fate invites readers into an interrogation of their own lives, and into a new kind of vision: the possibility of enough in a culture of more.
Seeking the solace of "a deliberate life," Fate, a professor of English at the College of DuPage, writes of his measured take on Thoreau's iconic words, turning his back on a hectic world in his new book. With a cabin in the wilderness of southwest Michigan, he explains his core beliefs after reading Thoreau's Walden in his introduction: "a deliberate life is a search for balance in mind and body and spirit amid our daily lives." If the reader can get past such feel-good, cozy chapter titles as "Picking Blackberries" or "A Box of Wind," there are real gems of insight and wit on the diverse topics of appreciating nature, love and sex, technology, parenthood, the solitary life, art, self-reliance, reason and aging. Never snide or condescending, Fate blends the significant milestones of marriage and family in a high-tech BlackBerry society with the joys and shortcomings of being mindful in both cultures, allowing the reader to sample how others live away from the hectic rat race in a pseudo-spiritual environment.