Author(s): Kevin Koch
In Irish Celtic lore, ""thin places"" are those locales where the veil between this world and the otherworld is porous, where there is mystery in the landscape. The earth takes on the hue of the sacred among peoples whose connection to place has remained unbroken through the ages. What happens, then, when a Celtic view of nature is brought home to a North American landscape in which many inhabitants' ancestral connections to place are surface-thin? In a quest to find a deeper spiritual landscape in his own home, Kevin Koch applies eight principles of a Celtic spiritual view of nature to places in Ireland and to the American Midwest's rugged Driftless Area, an unglaciated region of river bluffs, rock outcrops, and steeply wooded hills. The Thin Places brings onsite mountaineering guides, spiritual leaders, geologists, and archaeologists alongside scholars in the fields of Celtic studies, religion, and conservation. But the text never strays far from story, from a trek through the Wicklow Mountains and the bogs of Western Ireland or among ancient Native American burial mounds and abandoned nineteenth-century lead mines in the bluffs above the Mississippi River. ""It is tempting to say that The Thin Places explores two unconnected lands--except the point of Kevin Koch's wise and watchful book is precisely that there are no unconnected places. Whether in the Driftless region or in the spirit-haunted West of Ireland, Koch comprehends the numinous, and his lyric prose reveals how landscape and myth speak to us in ways somehow both outside and beyond language."" --James Silas Rogers, Editor, New Hibernia Review: A Record of Irish Studies ""In The Thin Places, Kevin Koch offers a unique journey into place, history, and spirit. He leads us in a revealing conversation between two particular landscapes--between Dubuque and Dublin, Iowa and Ireland, the Driftless and the Druidic, the indigenous and immigrant. In juxtaposing these realms, he expands his, and our, perspective on what it means to dwell deeply in any place. --Curt Meine, Co-editor, The Driftless Reader ""A quest through time and geography, a parting of the veil between the known and mysterious, Kevin Koch's The Thin Places will ignite your curiosity and lead you to reconceive your own home ground."" --Tamara Dean, Driftless-area author of The Human-Powered Home ""Kevin Koch's The Thin Places is a work of deep thoughtfulness and pressing urgency. In drawing connections between Ireland and the Driftless region, this book works like a loom, weaving together seemingly disparate threads into a single, beautiful fabric, and inspiring us to root ourselves more deeply in our native places."" --Austin Smith, author of Flyover Country: Poems Kevin Koch teaches Creative Nonfiction at Loras College. He is author of Skiing at Midnight: A Nature Journal from Dubuque County, Iowa and The Driftless Land: Spirit of Place in the Upper Mississippi Valley. His work has been published in The North American Review, Big Muddy, The Wapsipinicon Almanac, and in area newspapers. When not teaching or writing, Koch can be found bicycling, hiking, and kayaking throughout the Driftless Area of the Upper Mississippi Valley.