HORRY AND THE WACCAMAW by Franklin Burroughs


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 A six-day river journey by canoe through the Carolinas; by the author of Billy Watson's Croker Sack (1990) and winner of a Pushcart Prize for his nature essays. A few years back, when Burroughs (English/Bowdoin) came across Nathaniel Holmes Bishop's The Voyage of the Paper Canoe (its lone single edition, published in 1878, told of Bishop's 150-mile canoe ride down South Carolina's Waccamaw River, in Horry County), Burroughs, who was familiar with about 70 miles of the Waccamaw, decided to see how the whole winding river looked today--by canoe. His trip begins in North Carolina, at Lake Waccamaw, goes through his ancestral homeland of Horry County (known as the ``Independent Republic'' because it remained largely untouched by the Civil War), and, after six peaceful days of rain and sun through back country, ends in Georgetown harbor amid heaps of bleached oyster shells. The first person Burroughs meets on the river, after he is well along, is Thomas Spivey, who lives on the bank in a house whose parts seem recycled. Spivey's art is to chip big logs into canoelike boats, for which he gets about $2,000 each; Burroughs is spellbound by Spivey's swift and sure scooping-out of the chips. Despite Bishop's printed advice, Burroughs strays from the river several times and gets lost in byways or finds himself paddling in hour-long circles. Later, he meets the father-and-son Babsons, who run a picayune gas station. In their speech he finds layers of time, as when father Babson says, ``Work. There weren't much way in this country to make money but lumber, and it's many the million board foot of pine and cypress gone right down this river, right by this place here.'' At times soporific, but largely dotted with arresting moments and wonderfully captured backwoods voices. (Drawings.)

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 1992
ISBN: 0-393-03083-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1991