Zigzag: A Life on the Move

James M. Houston, Author, James M. Houston, Illustrator McClelland & Stewart $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7710-4208-9
Having spent years living among the Inuit (an adventure recounted in Confessions of an Igloo Dweller), Houston left his Baffin Island home in 1962 for Manhattan, to become a designer for Steuben Glass. In this unpretentious sequel, the versatile documentary filmmaker, explorer, novelist, painter, sculptor and champion of Eskimo art (""Yes, people in Alaska gladly refer to themselves as Eskimos"") re-creates the twists and turns of his full life. Part of his memoir's charm lies in its wry record of a Canadian's encounter with American culture. He found New Yorkers outspoken, impolite and far more territorial than the cooperative Eskimo hunters he left behind. He also chides Canadians for a lack of drive and being too tight-fisted with money, and he blames satellite television and Canada's government-sponsored boarding schools for disrupting Inuit society. There are personal adventures galore, as he shuttles back and forth to the Canadian Arctic; supervises filming of his novel The White Dawn; restores an 18th-century Rhode Island farmhouse; zigzags from East Africa's Olduvai Gorge to Japan's Hokkaido island to Venezuela's Orinoco River; and rubs elbows with Nelson Rockefeller, Mortimer Adler, Dale Chihuly and LBJ. His joie de vivre and optimistic faith in humanity make his journey (illustrated with his own jaunty drawings) a refreshing one. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1998
Release date: 10/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
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