NIGHT TIMES AND LIGHT TIMES: A Journey Through Lapland by David Hay Jones

NIGHT TIMES AND LIGHT TIMES: A Journey Through Lapland

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In 1987, having separated from his Greek-born wife and two small children, 28-year-old Britisher Jones pulled up stakes and headed north to explore ""Samiland,"" better known as ""Lapland."" Here, he tells of his experiences trekking across mountains and tundra, boozing and brawling in village bars, crossing the border into the Soviet Union, and finally of deciding to settle in Samiland. The nomadic Sami--reindeer herders, fishermen, foresters, and farmers who inhabit the Arctic regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia--had fascinated Jones since his first visit to the area in 1978, but what could have been an intriguing look at a little-known culture and locale is unfortunately marred by his self-absorption. Jones seems more intent on proving his own macho credentials than in providing insights into life ""at the top of the world."" Early on, he alienates a hiking companion with his need to prove his superior skills; he repeatedly exults in what a fine specimen of manhood he is. Not that there aren't some pleasures to be found in Jones' account. His affection for the Sami way of life seems genuine, though he tends to couch his arguments in a Sixties-style (""they are in touch with Nature--with Life"") sort of rhetoric. He tells of living for two weeks in an isolated cabin in the northern woods, surviving on berries, mushrooms, fish, and mouse stew. Yet even here he can't resist a bit of braggadocio: ""I am smug today,"" he says. ""I've been thinking that few people would willingly spend eleven days in the forest without food."" Jones also writes of a long weekend spent in Murmansk, seemingly the drabbest, least interesting town north of the Arctic Circle. There, as a member of a tour group, he meets and romances Anna, a Swedish nurse. The two return to the village where she works, Jones attempts unsuccessfully to find employment, and is finally forced to return to England when it is discovered he has no residency permit. Back in London, he works out his immigration problems and today lives in northern Sweden. Altogether, too many ego-trips sidetrack this northern journey.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton/Viking