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Bird Cloud    

"The river at sunset became mottled green and peach in patterns that recalled the marbled end pages of old books. Quickly the evening dusk filled with darting swallows, their dark bodies gradually absorbed by the intensifying gloom. The great horned owl called from the island and everything fell silent except the murmuring river and a more distant owl ... I told myself the house had to be built. I began to think of it then as a kind of wooden poem." From Bird Cloud (Scribner, $26), Annie Proulx's account of purchasing a section of Wyoming wilderness—including her very own island—along the North Platte River, then building the house she'd like to die in.

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