Kirkus Star


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Without quite the over-lyric impulse of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, young Marty tells the backprickling story of his first seven years in the Warden Service of the Canadian Northwest national parks. Taking it in are three old rum-swilling ghosts from parks service past, a crusty, colorful trio who give some idea of what Marty will be like if he stays with the wardens. First he's trying, clumsily, to master the psyches of his two horses. ""Horses have enough afflictions to turn a hypochondriac green with envy and a full list of their vices would make the devil swoon."" But off he sets with them toward his lonely cabin as an electrical storm lights up the Rockies. Soon he's pulling frozen dead men out of rivers, fighting forest fires with mile-long hoses, digging out dead skiers buried in the ""white bear grip"" of an avalanche. What's more he decides to get married, since he and Myrna have been going together for five years. One of the book's more hilarious passages is Marty's interview with the Chief Warden about Myrna's aptness for long years in the bush, which concludes with the chief's decision that ""she'll be able to carry waterpails over the snow drifts without spilling them."" Relentless danger and sudden death are commonplace for Marty, and Myrna, pregnant, has to put up with black bears and wild grizzlies that like to wander through her cabin while she naps. The lore of the wardens and their tall but true tales have an exultant realism that keeps you aware of the teller's heart pounding. Earthy and icy.

Pub Date: March 14th, 1979
Publisher: Vanguard