NORTH COUNTRY: A Personal Journey through the Borderland by Howard Frank Mosher

NORTH COUNTRY: A Personal Journey through the Borderland

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A richly observant memoir of a coast-to-coast journey along the US-Canada border, which the author undertook ""a little unsure of how to proceed but eager to see what I could."" The people along that line, writes novelist Mosher (Northern Borders, 1994, etc.), are a breed apart: self-reliant, tenacious, suspicious of the governments in Washington and Ottawa alike, to the point of harboring secessionist sympathies. The land, Mosher suggests, requires that ruggedness and independence of its inhabitants, remote as it is. And that very remoteness (Mosher describes the country as being marked by good brooktrout fishing, severe weather, and most of all, static over the radio) makes the border, along most of its length, a haven for outlaws of all kinds--cigarette and drug smugglers, tax resisters, even the infamous ""supergun"" builder Gerald Bull, who built a prototype atomic cannon destined for Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Mosher ranges along the line, collecting sometimes wondrous anecdotes of the lives of scrappy old-timers and young people who have chosen to make their homes away from the big cities. (One of the best anecdotes concerns the town of Marquette, Mich., which banned a movie shot there, Anatomy of a Murder, because Lee Remick's panties figured prominently in a courtroom scene--a scene shot, Mosher notes, just a block or so away, from the town's red-light district.) More descriptive than analytical, his account attains a certain poetry at times, as when Mosher quotes a taciturn New Englander who remarks, ""Aa for the border, I don't see any border, do you? Just a beautiful country with a river running through it."" Mosher, a Vermonter, is better at describing the eastern part of his trip than the western, where he is less at home. Even so, his book makes for an armchair traveler's delight.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1997
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin