Acquainted With the Night

Publication and reception

Acquainted with the Night: Excursions through the World After Dark was published as a hardback in Canada by HarperCollins in May 2004. In the United States, Bloomsbury published the hardback version in July 2004 as Acquainted with the Night: A Celebration of the Dark Hours. The trade paperback version was published by HarperCollins in March 2005. An excerpt was published in the Canadian literary magazine Geist.[16] The book was nominated for the 2005 Charles Taylor Prize, awarded to the best Canadian work of literary non-fiction, and Dewdney was a finalist in the English-language non-fiction category of the Governor General's Awards. The Library Journal noted the book would be "most useful for larger public libraries".[11]

Regarding Dewdney's writing, the reviewer for Publishers Weekly wrote that Dewdney writes carefully and "confidently".[14] Another reviewer called the book "engaging and recreational".[17] Gisèle Baxter, in Canadian Literature, found his use of language "provok[es] consideration through its elegant turns of phrase and image"[15] and Laura Wright, in Discover called the imagery "arresting".[18] In The Globe and Mail, poet and novelist Margaret Atwood wrote, "The prose moves from the strictly informative to the lyrical to the charming to the amusing to the odd to the strangely moving without batting an eye."[9] Another reviewer noted Dewdney "combined a deft lyric touch with a deep interest in science".[2] The reviewer for Canadian Geographic wrote that "the strength of the book is in its artful mix of science and poetry".[8] Literary critic Sven Birkerts found Dewdney to be "an engaging enough narrator and solid, enthusiastic stylist".[10] The book's structure received mixed reviews, some reviewers found Dewdney was able to effectively transition between various topics while other reviewers did not. Birkerts wrote the book has "a fun-facts-fished-from-the-data-ocean...[and] end-of-term crammer" sense to it.[10] The Quill & Quire and The Economist reviewers found the topics were too cursory, like "an encyclopedia entry".[13][19] Birkerts concluded "that any one of Dewdney's excursions could earn its keep as a column in a popular science magazine" but assembled into one book the topics seemed random.[10]

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