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Outdoorsman-author Angler, who took to the woods near the Yukon border before it was the hip thing to do, now wants to introduce us to the old-time sourdoughs--""everyone a character""--who helped him out as a cheechako (tenderfoot). Where ""human beings are so few,"" he writes, ""the most commonplace person takes on a very real importance."" Not for the reader, they don't. One gets a general sense of the traders, hunters, builders, mounties, inn keepers, and miners who built up Hudson Hope; but dozens of characters walk on stage, are given an adjective, and wander off again. Among them: ""long legged Olive,"" who at a young age, married the strapping, redheaded Gary Powell; ""pretty Ruth""; ""husky twin brothers, Jimmy and Billy""; etc. Too many anecdotes go nowhere: where did Jim Beattie plant his potatoes? Why, ""where they grew best was what I chose."" And there's an awful lot of ""roaring"" laughter at what seem, at a distance, feeble jokes. But when Angier slips into the lore of the woods and the North, things pick up. ""Cold weather doesn't close the Far North"" because the frozen streams make new regions accessible. ""The best meat, wild or tame I've ever relished anywhere"" is young mountain sheep, but bear meat and porcupine also rate high. And porcupines are ""so avid for salt that they are forever gnawing canoe paddles, toilet seats,"" or an umbrella left in the sun. Except for these juicy particulars, though, largely a played-out mine.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1979
Publisher: Stein & Day