Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What I'm Reading #1

Twenty Years A Trapper on The Kennebec and The Androscoggin, by Tiverton Wales. I make it a policy to purchase the dustiest books I can find, and this one I picked up some years ago at a used bookstore in Wells, Maine. It's quite a volume - 700 pages, more or less, with no publishing information. Wales tells of his childhood, which redefines "hardscrabble." It's clear that today his mother would've been diagnosed with several mental conditions, but as it was she took this boy along with her on seashell collecting expeditions on the Maine coast. He left home at twelve to try his hand as a trapper. Rare in such memoirs, Wales goes on (and on, and on) about his incompetence as a trapper. He's constantly smashing his hand under rocks, wandering around lost for days, eating the wrong berries and spending weeks "with [his] bowels in a state of the utmost discomfort such as would make the very fires of hell seem but a calming relief and like a good night's rest on a feather bed."

A lot of the book is devoted to his efforts basically to stay sane, although he would never put it this way, of course. But he talks about what faces he would see in different kinds of bark, and how he'd talk to pelts he'd collected, and give them names, so much so that some of them he was loath to part with even when he could get to the markets in Portland.

Anyway, I'm not sure I'd recommend this book.

1 comment:

  1. I agreed with your assessment of the book. Only made it about half way through myself. Although, I did find the woman with the "rogue ear" a bit comical at times. Probably because she reminded me of my own sister.

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