A Memoir
Email this review


 Maine's curmudgeonly chronicler Gould (Dispatches from Maine19421992, 1994,) pays tribute to 30 summer sojourns in the North Woods. When Gould's son married Bill Dornbusch's daughter, a friendship was born that would carry the two men through three decades of ``Grandfathers' Retreats'' to the trout pools and logging roads of Maine's northern wilderness. Leaving mountain- climbing and canoe-portaging to eager Patagonia-clad tourists, the pair packs a truck with everything necessary for their trip, never forgetting the Maraschino cherries for Bill's evening Manhattans. Together they have shared dinner in the cookshacks of logging camps, wrestled salmon that strike a fly ``like the Cannonball Express,'' photographed moose who graciously posed for them, and quietly appreciated the approach of a doe with her fawn and the jackhammer activity of a pileated woodpecker hunting grubs. Checking their progress against Thoreau's earlier explorations as related in The Maine Woods, Gould approves some of his predecessor's meditations, corrects others, and points out the pleasures Thoreau seems to have ignored. Challenged by friends for apparently ``doing nothing'' in the woods, the grandfathers founded the Caucomogomac Dam Institute of Fine and Coarse Art, and in the tradition of the Duke and Earl of Huckleberry Finn, annually present ``philosophic opportunities'' for ``fractured history'' to inhabitants of the region. Gould scoffs gently at those who protest logging and then ``hustl[e] home to read a newspaper'' and curiously criticizes lotteries for moose-hunting licenses while extolling the virtues of sport fishing. Tongue permanently (at times frustratingly) in cheek, he brings his beloved woods and its colorful denizens to life, and though his opinions will ruffle the feathers of some environmentalists, his reverence for the wilderness is plain. Gould's affectionate essays will make armchair anglers of readers who never knew they wished they were from Maine.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-393-03806-8
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1995