The Canoeist: A Memoir

John Manuel, Author
John Manuel, Author Jefferson Press $19.95 (215p) ISBN 978-0-9718974-7-2
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
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From the Chagrin in Ohio to the Chattooga in North Carolina to the Pigeon in Tennessee, Manuel (The Natural Traveler Along North Carolina's Coast) recalls trips along waterways both big and small. But one canoe ride soon blends into another (which then quickly gives way to another), and though each has a special place in Manuel's heart, the feeling for the reader is akin to bobbing aimlessly in a lukewarm stream of Manuel's nostalgia. He juxtaposes his canoe trips with ruminations on family in particular and nature in general, but the intent of these passages is not entirely clear; the book begins with Manuel visiting his dying father, for example, and though he references their troubled relationship, their mutual disappointment is never satisfactorily addressed. Manuel's explored raging rivers, but he's less adept at traversing the still water of his inner life, making for a tepid reading experience.
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