Anthology of reports from the edges of human civilization, including 17 new pieces and 6 short works of fiction, from esteemed essayist Millman (An Evening Among Headhunters, 1998, etc.).
Readers who enjoy the author’s work in National Geographic, Smithsonian, and other periodicals will be pleased to know that the 32 pieces collected here are characteristically thoughtful and occasionally very funny. As suggested by the title, many of them explore life on the remote fringes of the Arctic. In addition to the eponymous true story about being marooned on a remote Arctic island, Millman also offers tales about one-on-one confrontations with wild Kodiak bears and his quest to find the bones of explorer Henry Hudson. He provides variety by including several essays that venture below the Arctic Circle, one about mistaking a private residence for a hotel in the Ecuadorian mountains and another describing his visit to a witch-doctor in the western Pacific Yap islands to rid himself a mysterious rash. Even his commentary on American experiences explores our cultural frontiers; he finds an inflatable sex-doll floating in Walden Pond and describes his fellow tourists’ reactions to him as he carries it back to the park’s waste receptacle. His fiction, whether it examines an Irish community’s reaction to the accidental exhumation of a 19th-century suicide or provides a twisted account of Scandinavian cannibalism during a period of extreme famine, has the same tense and quirky tone as the nonfiction. Though his subject matter is often extreme, Millman’s wit and humor will inspire chuckles of recognition and reflection from fans and new readers alike.
Light reading for souls who crave small doses of extreme adventure.