Looking for the Klondike Stone

Elizabeth Arthur, Author Alfred A. Knopf $23 (321p) ISBN 978-0-679-41894-8
To fully appreciate novelist Arthur's ( Binding Spell ) memoir of the five childhood summers she spent at a Vermont camp in the early 1960s, readers must slow themselves to a sun-drenched amble. This may be no page-turner, but the author's hypnotic voice proves compelling. The first section is devoted to a lovingly meticulous description of Camp Wynakee's grounds and its people, the directors and staff members, all of whom attain a nearly mythical stature. Next comes a full account of the routines of a typical camp day, punctuated by asides concerning the various levels of meaning inherent in such camp activities as Indian Lore and the swimming lessons conducted in an icy pond. The narrative gains momentum and intensity in its last four sections, in which Arthur chronicles specific events including hayrides, hikes, celebrations and the Council Fires held by the camp's honor society. The chapter recounting one of the rare intrusions of the outside world (a visit from the author's mother and stepfather on the day of an eclipse) is particularly affecting, perhaps because it is one of the few moments when even a hint of unhappiness surfaces in the otherwise starry-eyed narrative. Filled with lush sensory details, this record does justice to the experience Arthur decribes as ``unquestionably the most satisfying thing I've ever shared with other people.'' (June)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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