Quiet Magic by Sam Cook, with illustrations by Bob Cary
University of Minnesota Press
This book is exactly what it promises: quiet and magical. It’s a collection of stories and essays the author wrote for the Duluth News-Tribune, grouped by season. Each piece is 2-4 pages in the book: a nice little morsel.
Each piece is 2-4 pages of observations and experiences related to the north country, the people to be found there, hunting and fishing, canoeing, etc. Cook’s gentle humor and perception make for a delightful few minutes of reading per story.
I find myself continually returning to Loomis Lips for the chuckle factor. Without spoiling it, I’ll just note that it’s about human nature. Oh, and fish.
Thank you for your patience during my absence. I’ve been making hay as the sun shines, as it were.
Back soon with more reviews. Current readings address topics as diverse as an all-girls polka band, a canoe trip down the Mississippi, short stories by Western writers, and a soldier suffering from both PTSD and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
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.
I nestled into the canoe seat and the moment my paddle touched the water I felt it: a calmness, a serenity drifting over me, settling over me like a cloak. Despite the raucous calls and splashing from other happy lake-goers, all I heard was the soft plink of droplets falling from the paddle and the nearly inaudible ssshhhhhh of the canoe gliding over the surface of the water. Tranquility.