Sam Keith, the author of this book, has taken Richard Proenneke's daily journals, recorded from his sixteen month stay during 1968-1969 alone in the ASam Keith, the author of this book, has taken Richard Proenneke's daily journals, recorded from his sixteen month stay during 1968-1969 alone in the Alaskan wilderness, and set them into a book. Proenneke was fifty-two.
The reader follows how Proenneke constructed his cabin from scratch. Even if exact measurements and construction methods are related, if one is not a carpenter I doubt you would be able to use this as a manual....and maybe then you can wonder if such detail is necessary. After the two month construction of his cabin and its interior furnishings, Proenneke is free to spend more time fishing, hunting for necessary food and observing the fauna and flora around him. The weather, the seasons and the animals - they are his day to day companions. Caribou, rams, wolverines, bears, wolves, lynx, squirrels. He counts them and he takes photos. He records the temperature, the depth of the ice on the lake and daylight hours. I particularly enjoyed his growing friendship with animals and birds. Some of the birds came to eat from his hand.
Proenneke is not living completely solitary. On and off food and mail are flown in. He does use tar paper and polyethylene plastic in the construction of his cabin. Still, you get the sense of living with only the most basic products.
Norman Dietz gives a good narration. It is kind of weird but the author doesn’t use adverbs.
I feel it is important that such an experience is recorded just as our need for nature reserves. His cabin is today part of the Lake Clark National Park. ...more
First of all, it IS engaging. I didn't want to stop listening. It is full of information. It keeps you thinking,Oh my, this book is hard to explain.
First of all, it IS engaging. I didn't want to stop listening. It is full of information. It keeps you thinking, and it doesn't necessarily provide answers. Definitely four stars.
It starts and ends with the line "The unexamined life is not worth living." I guess you would have to classify this as a cerebral novel, but also the parts set in Africa are dramatic; one thing happens after another - a civil war and infanticide and aggression and cannibalism and murder. Not one, but several. Murder of chimpanzees, but they are so similar to human beings that these too must be seen as murders. Chimpanzees and bonobos are the closest living relatives to human beings. Chimpanzees are more aggressive than bonobos.
There are three threads which flip back and forth. This is, until you get the knack of it, confusing. One thread is years ago when Hope is in England then married to John, a mathematician. Another thread is in the Republic of the Congo at a chimpanzee game reserve, a research center. Hope is both an ecologist and an ethologist. The African setting occurs later in time, after her marriage has dissolved. A third thread is when she later looks back on her experiences with her husband and then in Africa. She is trying to figure out what went wrong, and why and if she was guilty and what could have been changed. She is an ethologist! She wants to understand....just as her husband had been a mathematician and he too wanted to understand, to simplify life, to get it into a formula, something to put on a paper in black and white. Isn't life for observing and for trying to understand? Do we ever understand? Maybe that is the whole point of the book. Life is a wondrous puzzle that we must try to understand, even if we never will understand. I am not sure, but reading this will keep you thinking. That I guarantee.
I would have appreciated an author's note to place the years of the civil war of the Republic of the Congo / Congo Brazzaville. I call it the little Congo, the one on the ocean, not the big one that is called Democratic but isn't...... I needed to know. I NEVER found an answer and that too is so typical for this book! The book is published in 1990 and the only civil war I could find for this country was from 1997-1999. I sent a question to the author c/o the publisher. Will I get an answer? What is important is that the author has experienced civil wars in Africa, The Biafran War, so the war episodes feel pitch perfect. We know for sure is that the Biafran War is over and that ended in 1970.
The author superbly looks at our closest relative and makes us think about human behavior. There is abundant sex, and it is physical, but human sex IS physical, just as it is with chimps. I think the sex is well done. It might bother some. Not me. There is discord and aggression and manipulation. The parallels are intriguing. I told you it was cerebral. Continually you are comparing chimps and humans and mathematical axioms.
I really liked the narration by Harriet Walter. There is not much she can do to alert the reader to the changes of setting in both time and place. You just have to pay attention. The audio format is challenging but I enjoyed it tremendously. You get help with the setting changes from the point of view used. The African thread is told in first person and the English setting is in third person. There are also short quotes concerning mathematical theories. Sounds complicated? It is, but it is still very, very good. A puzzle to be solved, just like life.
ETA: This I forgot. Recognition, people want and need recognition, but to what degree?! I saw a difference here between John and Hope. John's need of recognition/acclaim was monumental. Hope's less so. I look at Hope and I admire her. She is the central character. She is s modern woman. She is strong and wise and loving and she doesn't expect as much as John. She doesn't demand as much recognition. Who is happier? ...more
The book description says exactly what the book is about. There are numerous stories about specific birds. It is these stories that capture the readerThe book description says exactly what the book is about. There are numerous stories about specific birds. It is these stories that capture the reader’s attention and heart. I was amazed by the antics of some of the birds. With other stories I laughed, and some saddened me. I was amazed by the communication and the strength of the bond between some of these birds and Michele, the author of the book and founder of the Pandemonium Aviaries. This conservation organization is dedicated to saving abandoned / damaged birds and breeding birds threatened by extinction. By reading these stories you understand what we will lose if these birds and others like them become extinct.
Good narration of the audiobook by Tamara Marston. ...more
I see no need in repeating what is stated in the book description.
On completing this book I knew immediately why I liked this book so much. Two reasoI see no need in repeating what is stated in the book description.
On completing this book I knew immediately why I liked this book so much. Two reasons, the first, the most important, being that the author captures how people think and talk and relate to each other. Time after time I felt that the relationship between the Lesters, Elise and Herbie, was so realistically drawn that the author must have understood them. They are people that really existed, as well as the first family followed in the book. Neither is fictional. Don't you ever look at a person and only because you know that person well can you understand why they act, say or do what they do? What that person does seems so foreign to your own way of thinking, but you do understand. It is in this manner you look at these characters. This is not the only relationship that is so perceptively portrayed; many relationships were pitch-perfect in their accuracy.
The second reason I liked the book is how the author never distorted the facts. Every single historical or geographical element and character that I checked was correct. I found myself both looking up the island San Miguel and the central characters. They are all true. The book centers around two different couples that lived on San Miguel, the first in the 1880s and the second during the 1930s. San Miguel is one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. I like historical fiction that teaches me history AND has characters that live and breathe. This book has both. The island, its history and geography, its flora and fauna and weather is interesting. The people that lived there are equally interesting.
The language isn't lyrical, but it describes events in a manner that is exciting and gets you thinking.
What did I think about besides relationships? I thought about how different the island was perceived by the two different families that lived there. I think this leaves an important message. Our personal attitude shapes events, but also that no two people will ever see things similarly. None of us have the same health problems or past experiences, and we are all born different. You cannot help but compare the two families.
I bet socially oriented people will be more moved by the first family's experiences, while people like me who instinctively love the thought of living alone on an island will understand the second family more easily. In that these two families were real, many factors complicated their lives.
I liked that what happens to Edith Alice Scott Waters/Inez Dean, from the first story, is clarified in the second story. I like the connection between the two. There is more that I liked. I liked the compassion Herbie Lester felt for animals.
Barbara Caruso ‘s narration of the audiobook was wonderful. Zero complaints.
Rather than repeating all my thoughts I post the link.
I don't give that many books five stars. They have to qualify as amazing. The author writes so you understand the value of nature, of the gift that is given to all of us. She shows us that a gift is tied with responsibility. Only if you understand that you have received a gift do you feel the responsibility to reciprocate. She opens our eyes to what has been given us. She also shows us how to handle the despair one can so easily feel. What is the point? I can do nothing. She gives us hope, and that is what is necessary so we don't just give up!
She wonderfully intertwines science with marvelous tales of the indigenous people. You can read the book just for these tales. You can read the book to learn scientific detail of flora and fauna. For example about strawberries, pecans, cattails, salamanders, maples and of course sweetgrass. Absolutely fascinating! You can read the book for inspiration; she is a single mother who has raised her kids alone. And what a fantastic job she has done. She remains humble. To top it all off she writes beautifully.
Occasionally I felt she was long-winded, but her message had to be made clear so we all really understand. Her message is SO important - to all of us!
This book is available on Kindle. If you try it and you don’t like it, you can get your money back if you return it within a week. What can you lose? I know, I am too pushy……. but I think this is such an important book. ...more
A gem that glistens. Beautiful. A contemporary rewriting of an ancient Maori legend. Its messages speak of the strength of women, but even more importA gem that glistens. Beautiful. A contemporary rewriting of an ancient Maori legend. Its messages speak of the strength of women, but even more importantly of the oneness of the past and present, the rational and the irrational, what we understand and don’t understand and of all life on earth. This is young adult literature for adults.
The audiobook narration by Kiwi Jay Laga’aia was well done. There is music throughout the recording, but it is the same snippet repeated over and over again. When will we get audiobooks with varied music and numerous songs? Anybody listening out there?