Peter's Reviews > Into the Porcupine Cave and Other Odysseys: Adventures of an Occasional Naturalist

Into the Porcupine Cave and Other Odysseys by William W. Warner
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's review
Oct 01, 2011

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bookshelves: essays, memoir, read-in-2011, science, travel

Looks like I'm the only person who owns this book. My wife picked this book up at a local library book sale, during their final 'everything is free day' too!

The subtitle is correct in that the author was an 'occasional naturalist', in that the time period covered by this collection of essays covers the authors life from his service during World War II through late in life, with large gaps in time between essays. The 'Adventures' part of the subtitle refers to the somewhat humorous hijinks that occur as the result of Warner not being the most experienced "outdoorsman". Some of the essays stand out, such as the one on his attempt to get to a Pacific island during his service in Naval intelligence in WWII in order to see the fish in the lagoon, his bird watching trip with his less than enthusiastic wife in the Dry Tortugas, his less than successful, though very funny, camping trip in Maine, and his brief trip to the Arctic.

It's a fine book, with a few brilliant observations and some humorous stories. The problem is that there is no great personal revelation, not that that's so bad, I guess I'm used to reading the classics of Science and Travel writing such as John McPhee, Barry Lopez, Loren Eisely, and Patrick Leigh Fermor. And as humorous travel writing it's not as good as say Bill Bryson. But that's OK, not everyone is going to write a classic.

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