Author Tom Fate searches for a deliberate life in new book
DUBUQUE — Tom Montgomery Fate, nonfiction author of “Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father’s Search for the Wild,” visited Loras on Thursday, Oct. 2. He made an appearance in Dr. Kevin Koch’s Nonfiction Workshop course as a published creative nonfiction writer speaking to budding nonfiction writers. A reading was held in ARC 202 at 7 p.m. that evening.
Fate was raised in Maquoketa, IA, where he discovered his love for writing in the seventh grade after one of his teachers had the class go out into a snowstorm and record their voice describing what they saw.
“I began to love what I wrote just like painters begin to love their paintings,” Fate said.
He graduated from the nonfiction program at the University of Iowa and is now a professor of English at the College of DuPage in suburban Chicago.
His newest book, “Cabin Fever,” has been described as “a modern ‘Walden,’ if you can imagine Thoreau married, with a job, three kids, and a minivan.” It illustrates his search for “a more deliberate life amid a high-tech, material world,” with each chapter juxtaposing two aspects of the human experience such as patience and passion, childhood and parenthood, nature and religion, and death and birth, among others.
For example, the first chapter, “Picking Blackberries,” is a juxtaposition of nature and technology. The title suggests picking berries out in the wilderness, but in the chapter itself Fate worries that modern time-saving devices like the BlackBerry phone (which he first encountered while wandering about the lake) will save him so much time that he “won’t have any left to waste.”
“Wasting” time, he suggests — e.g., going for walks with no particular purpose in mind — is vital to his creative method.
In addition to “Cabin Fever,” Fate has written other nonfiction books, including “Beyond the White Noise: Mission in a Multicultural World” and “Steady and Trembling: Art, Faith, and Family in an Uncertain World.” His essays have been included in several magazines including The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and Iowa Review.