Books, Velkommen

Wild

No Comments 27 January 2013

Click image to see flyleaf.

Cheryl Strayed.  Never heard of her.  But WILD came my way and her writing blew me acrosss the room with its power, beauty and honesty.  I don’t think I’ve read a book of this quality since Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird.  (I’m glad I didn’t let Oprah’s Book Club recommendation put me off.)

When I began, if I had known what was between the covers, I would have held on more tightly.  Cheryl wastes no time.  Chapter one:  ‘Ten Thousand Things’ is written with surgical precision. The throbbing intensity grows with each page until it must be fed.  It must be bled for.  Sobbed for until gasps replace breathing, until unconciousness provides a drop of relief. There is power in pain. The words vibrate with accuracy.  Each one perfectly chosen for one particular place on the page.  Doubtless she is her own editor, tirelessly playing each refrain until it is without flaw.  The mechanics are perfect.  Every word fits, every phrase passes smoothly to the next, every page builds the story, the book, the journey. But….wait until you get caught up in the content.

Not many years ago, Chery’s mother died.  Cheryl’s inner void filled with despair and it grew.  Getting off track took time and getting back on track would be no different.  The first few chapters set the stage. The remaining chapters journey along the Pacific Crest Trail telling a bittersweet personal story, unusually raw, always focused.  Hiking toward a better place:  Oregon.   The Columbia River.  The Bridge of the Gods.

 

WILD must be your next read.  It is Steak Tartare for the reader, Caviar for the soul.

Not particularly maritime related, but a salty journey, nonetheless. And as Melville wrote in Moby Dick: “Yes, the world’s a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete”.

A little taste by way of a few vids. Now what is she going to do for an encore?
Vid-1 Vid-2 Vid-3 Vid-4

Alaska, Books, Velkommen

Walking Home

No Comments 15 January 2013

Walking Home is required reading for boaters, hikers and all those tuned toward wilderness adventure and the solitary introspection it provides.  Lynn Schooler’s writing is delicious.

It’s the spring of 2007.  Small changes are growing too large to ignore.  The mirror reflects youth and vigor, while the newspaper photo shows age advancing with wrinkles and gray.  An overarching force is moving.  It demands recognition, but doesn’t say when. Some things on the forever list need to happen now or not at all.

Begin and end at Lituya Bay. Hike around Mount Fairweather. Physically challenging and mentally focusing. The individual requires companions to mirror thoughts; to sharpen and steel the mind, lest it run amuck and race toward the void. After long miles, the companions are Beauty and Pain. They spar as they search for a grand design.  Two deaths repeat the duality of Beauty and Pain.  Markers beside the trail:  a close friend and a marriage.

Lituya Bay is a place I dream of visiting.  My time for aggressive hiking is gone, but magical places will always exert their pull.  And Lituya Bay must have BIG Magic.  Mout Fairweather, perhaps more.  An incredible place for an adventure, a journey into history, into nature and into the soul.  They are as different as they are the same.  Just read the book. You can thank me later.

Video 1Video 2Video 3

Click the front cover to see the back.

Books, Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands, Velkommen

Dynamite Stories

No Comments 08 January 2013

Now here’s a cute little story.  Well, almost.  It’s disjointed, no one put the pieces together.  The editor must have been fishing.  Judith Williams writes well and the setting is perfect.  Post WWII Refuge Cove on West Redonda Island.  The solar plexus of Desolation Sound.  A handful of hearty independent thinkers willing to claw at the edges of an island to build a home and a life.  They are independent, perhaps-eccentric, out-of-the-mainstream types; that provides a palette of vibrant colors with which to paint a narrative  on a gray granite surface.

What common thread binds the story together?  The use of Dynamite.  Do I see raised eywbrows?  If you are going to carve out a life on a rock what else would you use to level a bit of the playing field?  Character development is begun early with interesting vignettes of the Refuge Cove residents.  The reader starts to feel a sense of community and continuity.  Toss in a few pages about the history of dynamite and the Nobel Peace Prize.  Then bounce back to the Ripple Rock explosion, not Refuge Cove, but it is Desolation Sound.  By now the character development is fading and the reader starts feeling bounced around.  Well, if disjointed is king, let’s run to the Fraser River and Hell’s Gate Canyon then Chatterbox Falls.  Now it’s time to get back on Redonda Island for more character development.  Characters must be scarce so toss in a dead cougar and a dead bear.  Still searching for a conclusion let’s see if Bute Wax and gold prospecting can tidy up the ending.  An interesting read. Make Judith do a rewrite and fire Terry Glavin the editor.  It will never be a prizewinner, but Dynamite Stories deserved to be better.

Click the front cover to see the back.

Alaska, Books, Velkommen

Journeys through the Inside Passage

No Comments 03 November 2012

Here’s a book that should be required reading, not only for those interested in the Inside Passage, but for all aficionados of good writing.  At first, I was confused by the format of ot the book:  Little vignettes of Joe’s personal experiences, then history lessons surrounding the same location along with legends passed down by old timers.  Often, this format does not work very well.  It can be jarring and disconnected.  That’s what I expected….DANG, was I ever wrong.

The entire length of the Inside Passage, from Seattle to Skagway, is Joe Upton’s poem.  Like you might imagine the ancestral stories of a native people passed down for generations.   Journeys Through the Inside Passage cannot be captured with a clever word or phrase.  Joe Upton paints a picture with his words.  He shows a sea with without eyes and conscience, only rhythm.  Ebb and flow, storm and calm.  A piece of music.  He illustrates the lives that sway to this rhythm:  A melody.  Each chapter is a movement in a symphony.

Totally marvelous – highest praise.

Click the front cover to see the back.

Alaska, Books, Velkommen

Hand Troller

No Comments 19 August 2012

Absolutely one of the finest books I have read.  That doesn’t mean it is not embellished and enhanced here and there, typical of the best fish stories.  Hand Troller captures the bold Alaskan way of life on the water as told by a small time fisherman.  A vanishing breed; a vanishing way of life.  But Mike McConnell is not bitter, he is grateful for a life that has encompassed large vistas, honest friendships and the thrill of fighting a big king salmon.  The splendor of self recognition in an untamed world.

The dialog is a treat.  It is spoken right from the deck and right from the dock.  It will have you laughing until your glasses fog over.  The story is told so honestly that the characters quickly become  friends.  A rare bond develops.

Most will never experience SE firsthand.  The turned pages of a book will have to substitute for the roll of the boat, the aroma of strong coffee and the sound of fresh caught salmon sizzling in the pan.    Please…….give yourself a wonderful gift.  Buy Hand Troller.  Share it.  Read it to your spouse, read it to your kids.

This is the real deal.  Don’t hesitate.  Don’t let it be the one that got away.

Click the front cover to see the back.

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