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If you go

What: Book signing for “The Way Home: Essays on the Outside West”

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Boulder Bookstore, 1107 Pearl St.

More info: boulderbookstore.indiebound.com

James McVey began writing his latest book, “The Way Home: Essays on the Outside West,” while residing in and hiking from the cabins at Chautauqua, where he lived on and off since 1986.

“All the years living there, I kept a journal of things I noticed in and around the Flatirons,” he said. “And that became the basis of my first essay, called ‘Life on the Edge.'”

McVey — who now lives in Eldora and teaches literature and writing for the University of Colorado — will give a reading and book signing for “The Way Home” tonight at the Boulder Bookstore.

“The Way Home” is a collection of essays, many of which are set in Colorado. In addition to writing about the Flatirons and the border between two ecosystems, as he does in “Life on the Edge,” his essays cover backcountry skiing on Quandary Peak, trout fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park and other adventures.

“I think part of the fun is I’m writing about places people are familiar with,” he said.

His journeys range into other Western states as well. But wherever he goes, McVey hopes to convey more than just a sense of the trip.

“My approach is more than a log, or a description of the adventure,” he said. “I’m getting into issues of place, and also I’m positioning these stories in a global ecological context.”

Beyond the global, the essays also examine the personal side of traveling in backcountry: why we go out into situations that are often uncomfortable, if not dangerous.

“I approach the activities, like river-running or backcountry skiing, as ritual,” he said.

“Over the course of these years, I’m not going out there for fun, I’m going out there for some other reason,” he said.

“What is that reason?”

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