cover image Last Places: A Journey in the North

Last Places: A Journey in the North

Lawrence Millman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $18.95 (242pp) ISBN 978-0-395-43615-8

Readers who are captivated either by offbeat adventure or by the Far North need look no further. Novelist and poet Millman followed the Vikings' route from Norway to Newfoundland and Labrador, journeying by ferry, mail boat and cargo vessel to the Shetlands, Faeroes and Iceland, with side trips to isolated islands (Foua, Grimsey). From Iceland, he flew to a former air base in Greenland, where he explored Viking sites in the south on both coasts. Flying to Newfoundland, he traveled by ferry to Goose Bay, Labrador; in this lonely place, peace was shattered by NATO planes running test flights into the interior. Returning to Newfoundland by ferry, Millman completed his journey at the Vikings' last-known settlement, L'Anse aux Meadows. The volume paints a bleak portrait of such dwellings, especially in Greeland, of a primitive people no longer self-sufficient, herded into ghettos. The author tells also of the region's natural wildness, embattled at times by humans: he witnessed whale-bashing in the Faeroes and endured attacks by nesting skuas in the Shetlands. Millman's descriptive writing borders on the florid, but he captures the beauty and fragility of an austere landscape. Author tour. (Feb.)