categories: Cocktail Hour
James Campbell’s Braving It came out last week. It’s a great book, beautiful and original, the story of a father and a daughter and their adventures in Alaska. It’s about wildness and beauty but also about family and the encroaching fear of aging, of a father coming into a strange new time in his life just as his daughter is coming into a strange new time in hers. There has been nothing like it as far as the nature/father/daughter combination, and it is much more interesting to me than the theory/Last Child in the Woods-type stuff. Nothing feels forced and the relationship comes across as very real and moving. Meanwhile the writing about the natural world and the descriptions in general are great. Creosote in the stove is like scurrying mice and spruce trees are “weary white-robed pilgrims worshiping December’s new moon.” It’s both taut and lush, a tough combo to beat.
I was honored that Jim asked me for a blurb. Here is what I came up with:
“Braving It is a beautiful and original book, an antidote to the screen-ification of modern life, and if there is any justice in the world it will be a huge hit. Wilder than Wild, it is also the most honest, moving and true story of a relationship between a father and a daughter that I have ever read. As the father enters the country of middle-age, and the daughter edges toward adulthood, they share an epic Alaskan adventure that includes running rivers, polar and grizzly bears, and bitter cold. They also encounter something even more dangerous: fleeting time. They both seem to realize that they will never again have this moment, which,for all the book’s beauty, gives it an edge of sadness. Countering this sadness, is the gift that father gives daughter and that the writer gives the reader: the gift of the elemental now, of moments of wind, fire,water, snow, cold, beauty. And of equally primal moments of human love and connection.”