Hanegi Playpark, Tokyo
Photo by Koji Takiguchi

Savage Park

A Meditation on Play, Space, and Risk for Americans Who Are Nervous, Distracted, and Afraid to Die

a Manifesto/Memoir by Amy Fusselman
Coming Jan 13, 2015 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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Part memoir, part manifesto, this exploration of the underside of America’s obsession with safety is prompted by the author’s visit to a thrillingly alarming adventure playground in Tokyo

“How fully can the world be explored,” asks Amy Fusselman ” . . . if you are also trying not to die?”

On a visit to Tokyo with her family, Fusselman stumbles on Hanegi playpark, where children are sawing wood, hammering nails, stringing hammocks to trees, building open fires. When she returns to New York, her conceptions of space, risk, and fear are completely changed. Fusselman invites us along on her tightrope-walking expeditions with Philippe Petit and late night adventures with the Tokyo park-workers, showing that when we deprive ourselves, and our children, of the experience of taking risks in space, we make them less safe, not more so.

Savage Park is a fresh, poetic reconsideration of behaviors in our culture that — in the guise of protecting us — make us numb and encourage us to sleepwalk through our lives. We babyproof our homes; plug our ears to our devices while walking through the city. What would happen if we exposed ourselves, if — like the children at Hanegi park — we put ourselves in situations that require true vigilance? Readers of Rebecca Solnit and Cheryl Strayed will delight in the revelations in Savage Park.


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Amy Fusselman is a writer and editor based in New York City. She is the author of The Pharmacist’s Mate and 8or more recently, The Pharmacist’s Mate/8. She has written for The New York Times, ARTnews, Ms magazine, and The Rumpus. She also edits the art and literary journal, Ohio Edit.