Gerald Thurmond grew up in San Antonio, Texas. He has a B.A. from Baylor University and an M.A. and PhD. in sociology from the University of Georgia. He teaches at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In addition to sociology subjects, he has for years offered classes that combine hiking or canoeing with reading and writing nature essays. He is co-editor with John Lane of The Wood Stretched for Miles New Nature Writing from the South from the University of Georgia Press. His essay, ?Midnight with Elvis,? appeared in Hub City Anthology II. Another essay. ?Faith?s Place,? was published in Crossroads A Southern Culture Annual, edited by Ted Olson, and in Pride of Place A Contemporary Anthology of Texas Nature Writing, edited by David Taylor. ?Pipe Dream: The Wild Nantahala? came out in the summer, 2005, edition of Isle. Most recently Appalachian Journal published his interview/essay, ?Payson Kennedy, the Nantahala Outdoor Center & Troubled Times in North Carolina?s Whitewater Industry.? He is currently at work on a book of essays that focuses on the southern Appalachian Mountains and Horace Kephart, the early 20th century author of Our Southern Highlanders, and one of the most interesting characters to have ever sought refuge in the Smoky Mountains.
Critical Description of Work:
My writing reflects my own contradictions. I feel an inexplicable spiritual joy and comfort in any piece of natural landscape, from the grandest Appalachian vista to the single old white-oak tree growing in my neighbor?s backyard. I also have a fascination with the life history of birds and snakes and all beasts that slither and crawl, scamper and fly. I identify things. I keep records and make lists. I do bird tallies for the spring, autumn and winter counts for the Audubon Society. By training and profession I am a social scientist and academic who is occasionally deeply skeptical of all indefinable, unempirical notions. In other words, I am two parts rationalist and one part raging nature romantic. This produces some odd results. How many other sociologists can say they are co-editor of an anthology of southern nature writing? My own essays attempt to deal with these parts of myself. I have written about a truck driver on the night shift who believes he was divinely inspired to be an Elvis impersonator, about my odd relationship with my South Texas fundamentalist rancher father-in-law and my love for him and the wild things that lived on his land, and about my attraction to a mountain river that an electric company runs through a giant pipe and turns off and on like a spigot.