Death on the Barrens: A True Story of Courage and Tragedy in the Canadian Arctic
by George James Grinnell
First published January 1, 2009 by North Atlantic Books
Rating: * * *
The author, one of six young men on an ill-advised, poorly planned Arctic trip in the 1950s resulting in the death of the trip leader, recounts the experience from the distance of 50 years.
This is a memoir, not an autobiography. Rather than focusing on the events of the trip, the book is about the participants: their hubris, expectations, hopes, fears, anxieties, and reactions to the changing conditions throughout the journey. As should be expected, the author’s experience is front and center, with descriptions of the other participants adding context. Grinnell strays into rants from time to time, but since the chapters are all quite short it’s easy to move on.
This is a quick read that will leave you shaking your head. I recommend reading it.
If you like this book, you may also like Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.
Bachelor Brothers’ Bed & Breakfast by Bill Richardson
Rating: * * * * *
Bachelor twins Hector and Virgil run a bed and breakfast visited by bookworms. At once utterly practical and blithely imaginative (in a fashion that only the truly independent can manage), the brothers describe their haven, their community, their observations and insights. Guests also offer tidbits.
This book tickles my sense of the ridiculous! Sometimes so breathtakingly odd I burst into helpless laughter. My favorite description is of the cemetery/golf course (read that again: cemetery/golf course): “There is no fence, hedge, or other line of demarcation to indicate where a hole in one ends and one in a hole begins.”
I have read this book several times and always find it delightful.