Christopher Shaw grew up in Schenectady, New York, and attended Bard College for two years. In the seventies he lived in the woods, guided, and worked odd jobs. Later he edited Adirondack Life magazine, and, while there, wrote numerous reviews in the New York Times Book Review and the Washington Post Book World. In the nineties he freelanced and wrote fiction, publishing widely in such places as the New York Times, Capital Region, Outside, New England Review, and through radio commentaries and the show Northern Voices on North Country Public Radio. Later he took his experience of living and working as a guide in the Adirondacks to Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico, as the binational watershed of the free-flowing Usumacinta River underwent dam threats and political and environmental upheaval. The result was Sacred Monkey River: A Canoe Trip with the Gods (W.W. Norton, 2000), which the Washington Post called, "a magnificent achievement."
Praise for Shaw:
"Chris Shaw is that rare beast, a down-in-the-dirt reporter and a big thinker. He showed how this combination can work in Sacred Monkey River, taking readers both deep into a canoe trip through troubled, beautiful country in southern Mexico and Guatemala, and far and wide through Mayan culture, history, cosmology, and an erudite meditation on the full meaning of place. "
-William Finnegan, The New Yorker; Barbarian Days
"Shaw is a master storyteller, an omnivorous reader, a fearless outdoorsman, and a person-who-has-lived-one-hell-of-a-life. He is a true American original, capable of unique thought and profound insight." -Robert Moor, On Trails
"Chris Shaw thinks and writes about subjects I love--history, epistemology, culture, consciousness, the natural world--with originality, intelligence, and vision. I'd read his take on just about anything. He's the guy you go to when you want to figure out how to live a life that matters." -Carolyn Kormann, staff climate reporter, The New Yorker
"Chris Shaw is a dedicated, dogged writer and editor; when he commits to projects and to people, he goes deep, looks through both a zoom and a wide-angle lens, and gets the job done. He has his pulse on what is important in the world, and knows how to tell these stories--and support others to tell them--in a way that draws people in and keeps them hanging on until the last word." -Lauren Markham, The Faraway Brothers
"Christopher Shaw has long been a powerful literary voice for the North Country, and is widely respected as an author, editor, and educator. He has been a major inspiration for my own evolution as an author and science journalist over the years, and I have always found him to be dependable, supportive, and skilled as an advisor as well as a master craftsman of the written word. Simply put, when Shaw writes, people around here take notice." -Dr. Curt Stager, Still Waters, Deep Future, Your Atomic Self, etc.
“I’ve worked with Chris Shaw for twenty years in the writing program at Middlebury, and been a huge admirer of his work for longer. He’s a steady and indefatigable worker, a writer with huge imaginative range. His writing and teaching have been an inspiration to me, and I look forward immensely to his new work.” -Jay Parini
"Shaw is the Jim Harrison of the East." -Katie Wilson, Keene, New York, former congressional candidate.
In 2018 Shaw retired from teaching writing at Middlebury College after twenty years, during which time he also co-directed with Bill McKibben the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism. He lives in Vermont with his wife Susan Kavanagh and spends much of the year at his remote cabin on the Saranac chain of lakes near Saranac Lake, New York, where he is currently working on his book, The Source. He is available for readings, workshops, lectures, and symposia.