A riveting, often hilarious story of an adventurous life as an anarchist drifter and tree farmer.

Hard Chance


In this debut memoir, Pfeiffer recounts his journeys to various parts of the world before he returned to Maine to become an independent tree farmer.

In the winter of 1970, the author left his central Maine commune to travel to Berkeley, California, to protest the Vietnam War. After a series of anti-establishment scrapes, including battles with police, Pfeiffer headed back east and ended up in Boston, driving a taxi. The tension of the job, during which he was robbed at knifepoint, and the increasingly lunatic atmosphere of the collective where he lived sent him fleeing back to rural Maine, where he talked an old friend into selling him a hundred-acre woodlot. With his girlfriend, “the Feminist Fatale,” he built a cabin on the shore of a pond on his new woodlot and drifted into a logger’s life. After a number of false starts (including a six-month stint in jail for “gardening to endanger”—growing a large crop of marijuana in the potato patch), Pfeiffer managed to purchase the equipment he needed to become an independent tree farmer. A hard chance, in logging terminology, refers to harvesting a bunch of thinner trees rather than one or two big ones. It’s the most difficult way to collect a given amount of lumber but it's often the only option. Pfeiffer’s life, as recounted here, is a reflection of hard chance, as he generally pursued the riskiest courses of action instead of choosing smoother paths. The memoir occasionally drifts into pretentiousness, such as when it conflates the author’s life with that of Moby-Dick’s protagonist, Ishmael. Overall, however, Pfeiffer’s voice is strong enough to deliver a rollicking and sometimes painfully honest tale of self-discovery. In it, he shows how he matures from the rage-filled radical of his youth to a peaceful (or at least resigned) adult, thanks to the serene Maine woods and the support of his circle of local and back-to-the-land friends.

A riveting, often hilarious story of an adventurous life as an anarchist drifter and tree farmer.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63381-020-4

Page Count: 357

Publisher: Maine Authors Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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