Perkins (Against Straight Lines: Alone in Labrador, 1983) canoes solo up Canada's Back River through the Hills of Humdrum and the Plains of Platitude in this self-involved memoir. The Back River is ""long, tough, beautiful, dangerous, and beautiful to canoe""--in other words, like almost any big river. Nonetheless, it inflames Perkins: ""I stand on the edge of a great adventure, the realization of a dream. . ."" It's not all as corny as this; Perkins does describe the passing wildlife (loons, wolves, grizzly, caribou) With considerable panache. But too often he leaves the reader dangling in the past, as he rehashes former jobs, loves, travels. And what are we to make of the pink plastic flamingo with which he journeys? Or his odd dreams, which he likes to recount? (""Tell a dream, lose a reader,"" sayeth Lawrence Sanders.) Or his ill-tempered complaints about missionaries, developers, and other trash? This changes focus more times than a Kenneth Anger film; too bad, because there's a gem of a nature writer behind all the blur. According to the publicity notes, Perkins filmed this paddle up the Back for PBS. Perhaps his adventure played better on TV; in print, it's a good argument for staying at home.