This piece is plot-driven, yet builds character, as it illuminates conflicts created by human encroachment into fire-prone areas. The piece offers both adventure and context. With skillful asides, Foster alludes well to some of the “backstories” of the American West: the frontier culture that persists among those who make their homes in the hinterland, the tension between that culture and public institutions, the technical challenges of fighting forest fires. Foster shows a knack for describing action. His original, vivid images help us understand his subject, like this image of the fire-prone landscape: “…the terrain ahead is like a napkin tilted over a candle.” And he uses great verbs: Fire “claws” and “chews” and “pelts.”

Read “In Wildfire’s Way,” by David Foster

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