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Thirty years ago, celebrated American writer Edward Hoagland, in his early fifties and already with a dozen acclaimed books under his belt, had a choice: a midlife crisis or a midlife adventure. He chose the adventure. Pencil and notebook at the ready, Hoagland set out to explore and write about one of the last truly wild territories remaining on the face of the earth: Alaska. From the Arctic Ocean to the Kenai Peninsula, the backstreet bars of Anchorage to the Yukon River, Hoagland traveled the "real" Alaska from top to bottom. Here he documents not only the flora and fauna of America's last frontier, but also the extraordinary people living on the fringe. On his journey he chronicles the lives of an astonishing and unforgettable array of prospectors, trappers, millionaire freebooters, drifters, oilmen, Eskimos, Indians, and a remarkably kind and capable frontier nurse named Linda. In his foreword, novelist Howard Frank Mosher describes Edward Hoagland's memoir as "the best book ever written about America's last best place." In the tradition of Twain's Life on the Mississippi and Jonathan Rabin's Old Glory, with a beautiful love story at its heart, this is an American masterpiece from a writer hailed by the Washington Post as "the Thoreau of our times."
This is not the Africa of Isak Dinesen, nor the Africa of Joy Adamson. This is the Africa of civil wars and tribal massacres, where the Lord's Resistance Army recruits child-soldiers after forcing them to kill their parents and eat their hearts. The aid workers who voluntarily subject themselves to life here are a breed of their own.Meet Hickey, an American school teacher in his late thirties, an American school teacher who burns his bridges with the school board and goes to Africa as an aid worker. Working for an agency in Nairobi, one of his jobs is to drive food and medical supplies to Southern Sudan to an aid station run by Ruth, a middle-aged woman, who acts as nurse, doctor, hospice worker, feeder of starving children, and witness. Ruth is gruff but efficient, and Hickey, who is usually drawn to youth and beauty, is struck by her devotion. Returning to Nairobi, he can't forget what he has seen.When the violence and chaos in the region increase to a fever pitch and aid workers are being slaughtered or evacuated, Hickey is asked to save Ruth overland by Jeep. What happens to them and the children that have joined their journey is the searing climax of this novel. Hoagland paints an unflinching portrait of a living hell at its worst, and yet amid that suffering there is hope in the form of humility, sacrifice, and life-affirming friendship.
In a luminous memoir of a life richly lived, one of America's finest writers explores the themes that have shaped his life and work: the glories of the natural world, the lure of working for a circus and fighting forest fires, the afflictions of temporary blindness and blocked speech, and the enduring influence of literary friendships, including John Berryman's, Edward Abbey's, and his mentor, Archibald MacLeish. From his childhood in rural Connecticut to some of the earth's last remaining wildernesses, Hoagland has traveled the world wielding his unusual gift for observation. InCompass Pointshe delivers an honest and lively accounting of his voyages through two marriages; the New York parties he attended as a precocious young writer; Vermont hippiedom and academia; his many vivid sojourns into Europe, Alaska, British Columbia, the Sudan; and, perhaps most unforgettably, his stint in the "Animal Department" of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus fifty years ago. Leavened with Hoagland's trademark humor and insight,Compass Pointsis an entertaining and moving account of the days and nights of one of our most eminent literary voices. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Edward Hoagland, best known for his essays, is also an extraordinary writer as fiction, as readers of his stories "The Final Fate of Alligators" and "Kwan's Coney Island" can attest. First published in periodicals such as The Paris Review, Esquire, The New Yorker, The American Review, and Saul Bellow's famous literary magazine, The Nobel Savage, Hoagland's stories amazed readers with their precise language and finely etched characters. He has been widely anthologized, including in Best American Short Stories. Assembled here are stories new and old, spanning from 1960 to today.Meet the death-defying motorcycle trick riders in the carnival's Devil's Tub, a man who keeps an alligator in his bathtub, a Chinese launder in Coney Island in search of love, a frontiersman who saves himself from a mauling grizzly bear by hiding in a beaver dam, three men from a circus looking for trouble at a rodeo, a washed out boxer trying to to hang onto his career, and dozens of others rich characters. From the cramped and gritty streets of New York City to the wide open spaces of the Old West, Hoagland's characters pine, ache, create, observe, love, learn, and live in such precisely rendered stories that we are transported into each of their peculiar worlds.
The essays vary in subject matter from "nature" essays to "city" essays.
"What a wilderness walk for a man to take alone!...Here was traveling of the old heroic kind over the unaltered face of nature." Henry David Thoreau Over a period of three years, Thoreau made three trips to the largely unexplored woods of Maine. He climbed mountains, paddled a canoe by moonlight, and dined on cedar beer, hemlock tea and moose lips. Taking notes constantly, Thoreau was just as likely to turn his observant eye to the habits and languages of the Abnaki Indians or the arduous life of the logger as he was to the workings of nature. He acutely observed the rivers, lakes, mountains, wolves, moose, and stars in the dark sky. He also told of nights sitting by the campfire, and of meeting men who communicated with each other by writing on the trunks of trees. In The Maine Woods, Thoreau captured a wilder side of America and revealed his own adventurous spirit.
A stirring tribute to one of America's most remote and beautiful places by one of the first modern preservationists This Penguin Classic-Muir's first book-puts a pioneering conservationist's passion for nature in high relief. With a poet's sensitivity and a naturalist's eye, Muir celebrates the Sierra Nevada, which he dedicated his life to saving, and recounts his breathtaking visits to Yosemite Valley, Kings Canyon, Sequoia Groves, and Mount Whiskey. The Mountains of California is an affecting celebration of raw nature by one of its most ardent defenders.
When artist, illustrator, writer, and adventurer Rockwell Kent first published N by E in a limited edition in 1930, his account of a voyage on a 33-foot cutter from New York Harbor to the rugged shores of Greenland quickly became a collectors' item. Little wonder, for readers are immediately drawn to Kent's vivid descriptions of the experience; we share "the feeling of wind and wet and cold, of lifting seas and steep descents, of rolling over as the wind gusts hit," and the sound "of wind in the shrouds, of hard spray flung on a drum-tight canvas, of rushing water at the scuppers, of the gale shearing a tormented sea." When the ship sinks in a storm-swept fjord within 50 miles of its destination, the story turns to the stranding and subsequent rescue of the three-man crew, salvage of the vessel, and life among native Greenlanders. Magnificently illustrated by Kent's wood-block prints and narrated in his poetic and highly entertaining style, this tale of the perils of killer nor'easters, treacherous icebergs, and impenetrable fog -- and the joys of sperm whales breaching or dawn unmasking a longed-for landfall -- is a rare treat for old salts and landlubbers alike.
In 1966, Edward Hoagland made a three-month excursion into the wild country of British Columbia and encountered a way of life that was disappearing even as he chronicled it. Showcasing Hoagland's extraordinary gifts for portraiture--his cast runs from salty prospector to trader, explorer, missionary, and indigenous guide--Notes from the Century Before is a breathtaking mix of anecdote, derring-do, and unparalleled elegy from one of the finest writers of our time.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Called the best essayist of his time by luminaries like Philip Roth, John Updike and Edward Abbey, Edward Hoagland brings readers his ultimate collection. In Sex and the River Styx, the author's sharp eye and intense curiosity shine through in essays that span his childhood exploring the woods in his rural Connecticut, his days as a circus worker, and his travels the world over in his later years. Here, we meet Hoagland at his best: traveling to Kampala to meet a family he'd been helping support only to find a divide far greater than he could have ever imagined; reflecting on aging, love, and sex in a deeply personal, often surprising way; and bringing us the wonder of wild places, alongside the disparity of losing them, and always with a twist that brings the genre of nature writing to vastly new heights. His keen dissection of social realities and the human spirit will both startle and lure readers as they meet African matriarchs, Tibetan yak herders, circus aerialists, and the strippers who entertained college boys in 1950s Boston. Says Howard Frank Mosher in his foreword, the self-described rhapsodist, "could fairly be considered our last, great transcendentalist. "
In the late 1800s, John Muir made several trips to the pristine, relatively unexplored territory of Alaska, irresistibly drawn to its awe-inspiring glaciers and its wild menagerie of bears, bald eagles, wolves, and whales. Half-poet and half-geologist, he recorded his experiences and reflections in Travels in Alaska, a work he was in the process of completing at the time of his death in 1914. As Edward Hoagland writes in his Introduction, "A century and a quarter later, we are reading [Muir's] account because there in the glorious fiords . . . he is at our elbow, nudging us along, prompting us to understand that heaven is on earth--is the Earth--and rapture is the sensible response wherever a clear line of sight remains."This Modern Library Paperback Classic includes photographs from the original 1915 edition.From the Trade Paperback edition.
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