This Ordinary Stardust with Alan Townsend in Conversation with Chris Dombrowski

About This Ordinary Stardust: A compassionate exploration of scientific wonder that offers “a fresh perspective on life, death, and the bittersweet consequences of impermanence,” (Jon Krakauer) as illuminated through the tragic dual cancer diagnoses of author Dr. Alan Townsend’s wife and daughter. A decade ago, Dr. Alan Townsend’s family received two unthinkable, catastrophic diagnoses: his 4-year-old daughter and his brilliant scientist wife developed unrelated, life-threatening forms of brain cancer. As he witnessed his young daughter fight during the courageous final months of her mother’s life, Townsend – a lifelong scientist – was indelibly altered. He began to see scientific inquiry as more than a source of answers to a given problem, but also as a lifeboat: a lens on the world that could help him find peace with the painful realities he could not change. Through scientific wonder, he found ways to bring meaning to his darkest period. At a time when society’s relationship with science is increasingly polarized while threats to human life on earth continue to rise, Townsend offers a balanced, moving perspective on the common ground between science and religion through the spiritual fulfillment he found in his work. Awash in Townsend's electrifying and breathtaking prose, THIS ORDINARY STARDUST offers hope that life can carry on even in the face of near-certain annihilation.

About Alan: Dr. Alan R. Townsend is a scientist, author, speaker, and dean of the University of Montana’s W. A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation. He is a highly cited author of more than 140 scientific articles and has served in multiple prominent leadership roles. He was named an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow and a Google Science Communication Fellow and was one of six scientists chosen to be in the Let Science Speak documentary film series, which premiered at the Tribeca TV Festival in September of 2018. Alan lives in Missoula, Montana.

About The River You Touch: When Chris Dombrowski burst onto the literary scene with Body of Water, the book was acclaimed as “a classic” (Jim Harrison) and its author compared with John McPhee. Dombrowski begins the highly anticipated The River You Touch with a question as timely as it is profound: “What does a meaningful, mindful, sustainable inhabitance on this small planet look like in the Anthropocene?” He answers this fundamental question of our time initially by listening lovingly to rivers and the land they pulse through in his adopted home of Montana. Transplants from the post-industrial Midwest, he and his partner, Mary, assemble a life based precariously on her income as a schoolteacher, his as a poet and fly-fishing guide. Before long, their first child arrives, followed soon after by two more, all “free beings in whom flourishes an essential kind of knowing […], whose capacity for wonder may be the beacon by which we see ourselves through this dark epoch.” And around the young family circles a community of friends—river-rafting guides and conservationists, climbers and wildlife biologists—who seek to cultivate a way of living in place that moves beyond the mythologized West of appropriation and extraction.

About Chris: Chris Dombrowski is the author of The River You Touch: Making a Life on Moving Water. He is also the author of Body of Water: A Sage, A Seeker, and the World’s Most Elusive Fish, and of three acclaimed collections of poems. Currently the Director of the Creative Writing program at the University of Montana, he lives with his family in Missoula.

Event date: 
Thursday, July 18, 2024 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Event address: 
Fact & Fiction Bookstore
220 N Higgins Ave.
Missoula, MT 59802-4435
This Ordinary Stardust: A Scientist's Path from Grief to Wonder By Alan Townsend, PhD Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9781538741184
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - June 4th, 2024

The River You Touch: Making a Life on Moving Water By Chris Dombrowski Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781639550852
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - October 31st, 2023