True North

Elliott Merrick, Author University of Nebraska Press $9.95 (353p) ISBN 978-0-8032-8164-6
Refusing ``to labor in the frenzied city . . . at a task patently not worth the doing,'' the author moved during the late 1920s to Labrador. Most of this book comprises the journal of a winter hunting trip taken with experienced guides as well as with Merrick's wife, for whom the allure of the North is equally powerful. Endurance is a point of pride for them; despite constant cold and hunger, despite mishaps (Merrick accidentally shot himself in the thigh, then nearly chopped off his toe with an ax), the Merricks adore this land of frosts and wastes so stark that a discarded matchstick ``looms as big as a house.'' Replete with local history and amusing yarns, the journal also includes such arcana as the best ways to wash underwear in the frozen North and how to construct sunglasses to prevent snow blindness. This reissue of a 1935 work is a fascinating, at times magical, chronicle of husbands and wives who, due to long separations and the extreme hardships under which they toil, regard each other as heroes and heroines. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989
Release date: 02/01/1989
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