LUMBERJACK by Williams Kurelek


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Lumberjack doesn't quite have the magic that the vast open spaces and tang of honest nostalgia brought to Prairie Boy's Winter (KR, 1973). It simply records Kurelek's own memories of his stints in Canadian logging camps back in 1946 and 1951 and somehow makes that since-mechanized milieu so real that one can feel the loggers' aching backs and mosquito bites and the warmth of the bunkhouse stove at night. Both the first-person text and naive realism of Kurelek's paintings focus on day-to-day concerns -- the gargantuan meals, the task (hated by Kurelek) of keeping his tools sharp and well-mended, the six-hole privies, the method of piling a cord, the honor of being addressed in his native Ukrainian by the respected Lithuanian foreman, the exact dollars-and-sense figuring that went into his hopes of earning a stake. Logging was hard work that left college students such as the author exhausted and ""starved for art and music,"" but he remembers the camp existence as, on the whole, a ""good life"" that has not ""passed into history."" Fortunately, Kurelek was there to record it while it lasted, and his anecdotes have an eidetic truth. Kids shouldn't keep this all for themselves -- this is a book to share with fathers and grandfathers.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1974
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin