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“Cabin Fever” author coming to Springfield

October 07, 2013 at 06:12 AM

The State Journal-Registerr

Tom Montgomery Fate offers a new take on cabin fever.

Cabin fever used to mean you were snowed in, isolated and itching to get outside and see other people.

“In the modern era, it is just the opposite,” Fate said.

Today, we long to be “unplugged” and seek isolation from the pressures of modern life.

“People are multi-present and we are overwhelmed with technology,” he said.

That’s why he wrote “Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father’s Search for the Wild.”

Author Tom Montgomery Fate

“It’s really a modern conversation with Henry David Thoreau,” he said.

Thoreau was an early 19th century author and poet who wrote “Walden,” which reflected on his experience of living simply while surrounded by nature.

“The book asks the question, ‘Why is that stuff relevant to those of us who have busy lives and can’t get to the woods?’”

Fate, a professor of English at College of DuPage in suburban Chicago, will be in Springfield for a presentation and book signing at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bonaventure Hall, Chiara Center, 4875 LaVerna Road.

“It’s about living a deliberate life,” he said. “I tried to make an argument that a deliberate life is a balanced life.”

Balance can be tough to achieve, he said, with all the pressures of kids, family, work and the pushes of technology.

“You are always standing on the fulcrum and there is always something trying to push you out of balance,” Fate said.

What the book seeks to do, he said, is to help the reader recover some “attentiveness” to the world around us, helping make day-to-day experiences more meaningful.

“Each chapter is an invitation to the reader asking how they weigh the various aspects in their lives,” Fate said.

The book grew out of a series of 500-word radio essays he recorded over the past 10 years.

“I built the radio essays out into 5,000 word chapters, and finally weaved them together into a book.”

Fate said the same technology that connects us disconnects us, too.

He gives the example of people using smartphones.

“Everyone has their heads down,” he said. “Everyone.”

People, he said, aspire to be in several places at the same time.

“But the natural world has a different sense of time,” Fate said.

Especially when it comes to natural cycles.

“Nature can heal form human excess, but we don’t live on that 50-60 year recovery cycle,” he said.

“Cabin Fever,” one of Fate’s five books, was published in late 2011 and came out in paperback in June 2012.

Chris Young can be reached at 341-8487 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow him at

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