Tom Curwen, outdoors editor *

The literary scene knows Tom Curwen as the one-time deputy editor of the L.A. Times Book Review and an erudite writer in his own right. Today, he was named editor of the paper's weekly Outdoors section, for which he has been writing pieces the past year (* including a savory cover story today on spending 24 hours beneath an oak tree in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta upstate). The memo follows:

To: The Staff
From: John Montorio, Deputy Managing Editor

Once it became clear to us that, no matter where we looked, we never were going to find anyone with the temperament of Gen. Patton and the soul of John Muir to replace Bob Sipchen, we turned and found the person we really needed was already among us. I'm very pleased to announce that Tom Curwen has been appointed editor of Outdoors and will take over when Bob leaves later this month.

Over the past year, we've all admired Tom's work as one of our department's best writers. So have others. In fact, he won an award from the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors for three particularly memorable pieces he did for Outdoors -- caving, Alaskan bush pilots and the Bosque del Apache. Rereading them will give you a clue to some of the qualities Tom will bring to his new assignment -- interests that are physically and intellectually wide ranging as well as a keenly honed literary sensibility. Tom clearly has a broad conception and experience of the many ways in which our diverse readership experiences the outdoors. I'm excited about his plans to expand the vibrant package our Outdoors staff already has assembled with more service pieces and -- in collaboration with our Book Review section -- by securing exclusive access to some of the great nature and adventure writing forthcoming from established writers and publishers.

Tom has slipped so comfortably and productively into his writerly life that it's easy to forget he spent the previous seven years as Book Review's deputy editor. But it won't surprise anyone who read his oak tree essay in Outdoors' current issue that he has a master's degree in Creative Writing from USC and was a recipient of a 1991 Academy of American Poets prize. In 2002, he received a Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for mental health journalism. While the current rethinking of our editorial structure proceeds, Tom will continue to report to me.

Please join me in congratulating Tom on his appointment, and then we can all settle back and watch as a great section gets even better.

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