New Book! Forthcoming Spring 2023.
I’m incredibly excited to announce that my first book, titled Compass Lines, will be published by Porphyry Press in spring 2023.
In essays that traverse latitudes and continents, John Messick’s debut Compass Lines explores the places that shape our journeys toward belonging. From Antarctica to the Arctic, a tattoo parlor in Cambodia to an abandoned Alaska mine and beyond, this deeply felt and researched book teaches us how learning the rhythms of places we inhabit requires both movement and stillness.
Compass Lines negotiates the line between natural and human worlds. A fire crew rescues a ghost town; young environmentalists clean up the discarded belongings of immigrants along the US-Mexico border. Whether gutting a caribou or discussing Dostoyevsky with Kurdish youth, Messick chases new experiences with an almost compulsive zeal. In Alaska, though, he begins to question the impulse to travel.
As Messick settles into a more sedentary life, we begin to glimpse the value of stillness—wing prints on snow, a wolverine on a riverbank, cupboard shelves stocked for winter. From childhood to fatherhood, difficult and sometimes bloody interactions mark the effort to forge an ethical identity. Compass Lines reminds us to be curious, kind, attentive, and patient, because we carry with us parts of the places we have been to wherever we go.