RIVER by Colin Fletcher


One Man's Journey Down the Colorado, Source to Sea
Email this review


 Another epic adventure from a renowned traveler and writer. Fletcher (The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher, 1989; The Man Who Walked Through Time, 1967; etc.) is a well-known type: the English desert rat, an uncomplaining, slightly dotty collector of dry places. Here he adds to his roster of voyages by floating and walking the 1,700-mile length of the Colorado River, from its sources in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming to its union with the Gulf of California. Others have made this journey--devotees of the Colorado will know the writings of John Wesley Powell, Ellsworth and Emory Kolb, and Philip Fradkin, to name just a few chroniclers--and Fletcher does not reveal much new about the mere facts of the long stream; indeed, he made his trip in 1989, and parts of his narrative are already dated. On a deeper level, however, Fletcher's well-written book is much more interesting than most other Colorado River travelogues, for he uses the river-voyage metaphor to address his own passage through life, musing on lost loves, his luck in having survived service as an infantryman in WW II, the onset of old age, and impending mortality. (``If you live [through war],'' he writes wisely, ``and half a century later move into prime dying time, you discover you'd damned well better have come to grips with the imminent reality [of death].'') Fletcher is refreshingly straightforward and often disarmingly funny, especially when he addresses his own frailties. He is also a keen observer of geology, wildlife, and human behavior, and his memoir is full of a pleasant, engaging, and poetic intelligence. This thoughtful book--which, as Fletcher notes, records ``a journey, not an exploit''--should become a favorite of river-rat bibliophiles. (41 photos and 15 maps, not seen) (Book-of-the-Month Club selection)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-394-57421-4
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1997


NonfictionTHE SOURCE by Martin Doyle
by Martin Doyle