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What readers are saying about Slow Road Home


Reviews and Interviews




  • Wilma Snyder of Wytheville reviews Slow Road in her AboutBooks radio program, January 11, 2007.




  • Middlewesterner Poet and Author Tom Montag offers an appreciation of Slow Road Home, valued because Tom has followed my journey from early on, and because he has such a rich sense of his own place. November 2006


  • Prime Living Magazine / October 2006 Cover Photo and interview feature





  • Listen to Fred's interview for Studio Virginia on WVTF, broadcast on June 15, 2006. Part One and Part Two



Mary Ann Johnson of Roanoke Times BookNote June 11, 2006


From Meredith Sue Willis' Books For Readers

  • Fred First, biologist and naturalist, has collected the best of his newspaper column and blog about his life on a small property in Floyd County, Virginia. He and his wife chose this property in this location after much thought, and his life in these southwestern Virginia mountains is a conscious, indeed ideological choice– that is to say, he is attempting to live in a way that is exemplary and instructive to others. He believes that it is a good thing to garden in the summer and a good thing to chop wood and tend the wood stove in the winter. In particular, he believes that a meditative observation of nature is a good thing, and some of his paragraphs of description are as powerful as any I’ve ever read about nature. Read more...


Jack Higgs, editor of Appalachia Inside Out, Volumes I and II

  • Much in little: this is modus operandi of Fred First. Like Emily Dickinson, he notices “smallest things,” things overlooked before, finds them italicized as it were, and makes them part of his memory, his diary, and now this book, vibrant with the rich sense of living things on the pages within it. Everything he sees is connected, barely visible and maybe even invisible, but clearly a part of the web of being running trough space and time. (Read more of this at JacksReview.)


Jim Minick, author of Finding a Clear Path

  • Socrates calls us to live an examined life and Fred First heeds this call. Through these fragments from Floyd, he mends together the bits and pieces of his days to create a wholeness of a life and a book.


Thomas Gardner / Virginia Tech Author of A Door Ajar

  • Fred First's Slow Road Home, like Thoreau's Walden, is an experiment in living deliberately and facing the essential facts of life. Morning after morning, First opens his eyes and remembers, using words and a naturalist's love of details to coax pattern and parable, tragedy and transcendence, out of his Floyd County meadow and creeks. His paragraphs trace the drama of the ordinary—an ordinary so rich and strange that we realize we've never been truly awake before.


Margaret Mc Ghee / Floyd, Virginia

  • Many folks dream of stepping off of the fast track on to a slower road. A few actually do it. The Slow Road Home, a chronicle of one person’s transition from faster to slower living, offers wonderfully written insight and honesty about the journey. As I stumble through my own transition, I find Fred’s observations to be both validating and encouraging. But there’s more! Fred is, among other things, a naturalist, a photographer, and an observer. Readers will find excerpts that make them smile, segments that are thought provoking, and observations that resonate with their own suspicions that intent is a quality to be cultivated.


Anne Downing / Baker, Louisiana

  • Taking the slow road home can bring a peace that settles our minds, will lift our spirits, morph our attitude into one of joy unspeakable, and prepare us for the comforting nest of home. Let the cares and busyness and uproar of the world drift away, as you experience this author's SLOW ROAD HOME. Journey with him as he pauses to observe, celebrate, and ruminate on the simplicity as well as the complexity of life in nature's backyard.


Jan P / London, UK

  • Both down-to-earth and heartwarming, the Slow Road Home is just one of those books that enrich your experience as a reader. Each entry is a walk out into the countryside with the author, sometimes accompanied by his wife, Ann, and their dog. He's a good companion, using his knowledge as a naturalist, his eye for a picture, and his decidedly poetic voice to point out all the small things one might otherwise miss, while spinning a yarn that captivates the imagination. But this isn't just a book of confectioner's treats: Fred doesn't spare us the harsher realities of Nature and paints a broad and honest canvas with the darker hues of life, but uses them with great effect to highlight life's wonderful moments, leaving the reader satisfied, a little wiser, and with the realization that—although it's never easy--our goals are worth striving for and that one day, too, we could find ourselves content just 'coming home'.


Leslie Shelor, editor, Blue Ridge Gazette

  • "I'm a person that devours books, reading cover to cover in a rush to absorb words and meaning and experience. But this lovely book stopped me cold sentence after sentence. It's a book to pick up and savor, then put down to think about the phrases and meanings. I'll be reading this memoir for years. It speaks of a man's personal journey, and it speaks to my personal journey. I am in awe."


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