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Notes from The Century Before: A Journal from British Columbia
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 o ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 12th 2002 by Modern Library
(first published 1969)
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This is ebullient prose. Travel writers are often so romantic. They work for the lovely simile the apt, powerful verb and here we have them. Hoagland sets the book up as a diary of his time in the wilds of British Columbia. He interviews the men who came out to look for gold and map the territory. It is the 1960's and Hoagland is a young man excited by the place, the people (mostly men here. The women are only stolid, crazy or both - one man Hoagland interviews tells him if he wanted to know the ...more
I read this over a period of about 6 months, which says more about my life at the time, than the book itself. I'd often only get through a few pages in bed before falling asleep. I'm not huge on the diary format, but past that pretty quick. I was initially worried that I wouldn't take to the format of interviews and profiles, but it worked fairly well for me. I was at times bored, but once I finally got to sit down and read more at once, I started getting into it more and more. Towards the end, ...more
A lovely story of the life up in the Caribou Country. Having visited British Columbia recently and hiked some trails, I can appreciate a lot of Hoagland's observations and experiences. The area of the province he visited is even further north than I was at. You have to be tough to endure such living conditions. Hoagland described life there as lonely, but it didn't seem like anyone wanted to leave. As the matter of fact, people kept showing up to stay. May be to test your strength in the wild? T ...more
Hoagland writes like I want to write, he lived like I want to live. I think Roth or Updike, both writers whose styles I do not care for---but their opinions?Yes---one of them said something to the effect of "he shoulda won a Nobel"..others have called him "Americas greatest essayist alive". I'd say he's our best, hands down. Whatshe write about isnt the question---what does he NOT write about.This particular book is one long essay, the characters are fleshed, as in a novel, the descriptions of t ...more
I've never read a book of observation (that's literal, by which I mean looking; at the mountains, at people, etc.) in which so much is obstructed from view. Hoagland plays it close to the parka in this book, infuriatingly and without recovery. The writing is superb, however.
Edward Hoagland (born December 21, 1932, in New York, New York) is an author best known for his nature and travel writing. His non-fiction has been widely praised by writers such as John Updike, who called him "the best essayist of my generation."More about Edward Hoagland...