Finally I finished this book. I have been recovering from my four day deposition last week. I have felt unusually lazy when it comes to reading. It’s a pity too, especially since my “To Read” pile seems to be growing exponentially.
I am going to break tradition and review a non-fiction book. I usually don’t read non-fiction. Being a lawyer destroyed that for me. After dealing with the ills of the world, a little escape is quite the necessity.
It was a trip to salvage a relationship. Steven Faulkner felt that he was losing touch with his sixteen year old son, Justin. As the father of seven children who was working round the clock and simultaneously putting himself through college, masters, and Ph.d., he had precious little time to devote to his son. Their relationship had drifted to the point where they really didn’t speak to one another.
Faulkner’s solution to the problem: he and his son would take a canoe and re-discover the Mississippi River following in the footsteps of French explorers Marquette and Joliet. The father and son work for weeks at roofing jobs to purchase the necessary equipment.
Finally, his wife and younger children drop them off at the Great Lakes. Father and son shove off knowing that they will not see the rest of their family for 9 long weeks until they reach St. Louis. The time they spend together seems to improve their relationship somewhat. It is unusual in the sense that there really isn’t much dialogue between the pair. Or maybe that seems unusual to me because I am a female and that is not typically not how mother and daughters bond. They do make it to St. Louis. Along the way, Faulkner does recount bits of the history of the discovery of the Mississippi.
The one thing that struck me about this book was that it was “powerfully wet.” It reminded me of the phrase, “Water, water everywhere.” For one thing they were on the water forever. The other thing is that it always seemed to be raining. They spent a great deal of time drying out. The second thing that struck me was that it was dangerous. Throughout the nine weeks, they camped in random places along the shore. There was wild life i.e. wolves. Then of course there was Nature itself. These rainstorms in which they were caught made visibility nearly impossible; the canoe did fill with water. All it would have taken is one overturn, and they would have been goners. Then there were the dams and other boats. The other boats caused wakes that nearly flipped them over. As for the dams, they caused a lot of turbulence. In one instance both of them nearly drowned. As the approached a dam the water became very turbulent and they tried to foolishly hold onto a water marker. They ended up over turning their canoe and losing most of their possessions.
What was truly amazing was that both father and son met some truly amazing people. Complete strangers gave them ride to town, took them into their house, and really came to the rescue when they overturned the canoe.
Finally it was an interesting method of storytelling. It was told in the first person, which is no surprise. But it also had these flash forward scenes that took place 3 years into the future. It was quite intriguing. In fact the book started with one of these scenes. Justin gets into a car accident that gets worse as the sequence unfolds. The reader is given little tid bits throughout the story, but it isn’t until the end that the reader discovers whether or not Justin survives.
Anyway, this book is available in bookstores now. And as Fan of Steve commented last post, Mr. Faulkner does have an upcoming travel schedule for anyone who wants to get a glimpse of the intrepid traveler.
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