Atchafalaya Houseboat: My Years in the Louisiana Swamp

Gwen Roland, Author, C. C. Lockwood, Photographer Louisiana State University Press $22.95 (161p) ISBN 978-0-8071-3089-6
In the late 1970s, Roland and Calvin Voisin made a decision to live a pleasantly isolated life: they constructed a houseboat in Louisiana's Atchafalaya River Basin Swamp, caught their own food and made money by trading and welding. Roland and Voisin revel in their isolation, and the joy Roland takes in retelling her experiences is evident on every page. The book is enhanced by nature photographer C.C. Lockwood's photographs, which depict the couple going about their daily houseboat business (and were published in National Geographic). Roland's writing, most of which was done at the time, is highly accessible if at times disjointed. It's hard to discern an exact sequence of events, and certain things seem to happen out of nowhere, like when Roland leaves Voisin for another man, whom she marries. The end of the book, in which Roland discusses her fascination with organic gardening pioneer Robert Rodale and sketches her life today, makes for a less than satisfying ending to an otherwise intriguing look at a disappearing way of life. Photos.
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
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