THE GOOD RAIN: An Exploration of the Pacific Northwest by Timothy Egan
Kirkus Star

THE GOOD RAIN: An Exploration of the Pacific Northwest

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A mesmerizing ode to the Pacific Northwest, convincing us that the wilderness is a source of ""renewal""--if we will only stop treating ""paradise"" like a ""vacant lot."" ""To see what a century can produce from scratch,"" Egan retraces a journey made in 1853 by young New Englander Theodore Winthrop through wilderness that is now Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. In a book about his trip, The Canoe and the Saddle, Winthrop predicted that this ""strong, savage and majestic"" land would produce a ""full growth of the American Idea."" Egan's riveting travelogue (which includes maps, not seen) surveys what civilization (in places like Seattle and rose-filled Victoria) has brought about since the time of the ""prophetic"" Winthrop, while taking in the incredibly varied drama of this landscape (from the ""incorrigible breakers"" of the Columbia River Bar to the primeval Olympic Rain Forest and the North Cascades' ""museum of ice""). A New York Times reporter and Northwest native, Egan writes about this land and ""its icons--salmon and trees and mountains and water"" with the nightmare of urban traffic at his heels. Street-smart and image-stocked prose animates landscape where water is ""the master architect"" and giant trees are falling in today's timber boom ""like a retreating army in winter."" Egan alerts us to the cries of slaughter still echoing from the white man's wilderness rampage, which left native tribes decimated, land stripped, and water poisoned. We feel the loss of sea otters, harbor seals, wolves, and salmon (the ""soul"" of the rivers), and see the madness of continually leveling 62,000 acres a year of ancient, irreplaceable forests. ""Winthrop thought the land here would change a man, not the other way around,"" Egan writes. "". . .We have yet to prove him entirely wrong."" Glimpsing ""exalted life in the iced pinnacles,"" readers from any landscape will respond to Egan's timely, pantheistic call.

Pub Date: June 5th, 1990
Publisher: Knopf