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Read in the Blue Line

An Adirondack coming-of-age adventure

“I felt as if I were shedding my skin, shaking things loose that I didn’t need anymore.” This is my favorite line from “Camper Girl,” by Glenn Erick Miller. Eighteen-year-old Shannon Burke realizes that she can manage with less, and even flourish, after overcoming obstacles she ...

Powerful tale of Adirondack bootlegging

Christopher Shaw’s “The Power Line” is a complex novel set mostly in the Adirondacks during and soon after the Prohibition years. Lonnie Monroe and Francois Germaine work in the woods for Paul Smith, bringing electricity to his hotel. They are also bootleggers, transporting liquor from ...

Much to learn about Adirondack prisons

In a notable new book, “A Prison in the Woods,” Clarence Jefferson Hall Jr. seeks to analyze connections between penal systems and environmental issues as related to the Adirondacks. It’s a topic I’d never thought about before. Apparently not many others have, either, as the author ...

Bits of good news for the earth

The Rewilding Earth Institute is an organization of conservation activists based out of New Mexico but whose concerns cross the globe. The organization’s publication “Rewilding Earth: Best of 2019” highlights conservation projects and their progress. One project particularly highlighted ...

Reading in a time of COVID

Let’s call this column “Reading in a time of COVID.” No, this won’t be anything like Daniel Defoe’s “A Journey of a Plague Year.” However, I will say that one of the few upsides of living through this pandemic has been the extra time I’ve had to read. I can’t go very ...

Nessmuk lives

A few months ago, I received a book as a gift from a friend in Vermont. The jacket was inscribed to me, “My Dear Christian,” and after a few comments concluded, “... and that it will entice you back to these verdant shores. Signed, Nessmuk.” This is mysterious. Nessmuk, as some ...

Tall tales launched Adirondack tourism

There’s never a bad time to read or reread the book that first brought the Adirondacks to national attention as a recreational paradise. “Adventures in the Wilderness,” by William H.H. (“Adirondack”) Murray, attracted a figurative stampede to the Great North Woods upon its ...

Poems of loss and laughter

Woven through this collection are ideas and images of lost things — loves, words, species, trust, safety. But it is not a collection of brooding or grief. The poems are full of spark and spunk, they glitter and wink. You will not come away from this book feeling depressed; rather, bemused, ...

‘American Axe’ offers surprises, practical beauty

Brett McLeod’s beautifully composed “American Axe: The Tool that Shaped a Continent,” lives up to its extravagant title. The Paul Smith’s College professor chronicles the history of the weapon/tool that “Otzi the Iceman” used in Tuscany 5,300 years ago to its recreational use in ...

Short stories that go to uncomfortable places

After a series of Adirondack-themed novels, Tony Holtzman tries short stories with his new collection, “The Strange Malady of Alessandro’s Uncle and other stories.” In the book’s introduction, Holtzman notes that he drafted the first story in 2006 after retiring from a medical ...

Rockwell Kent’s books complement his paintings

Like a hiker who returns to familiar, nourishing, trails, I often reread books that pleased me in the past. Rockwell Kent’s adventure memoirs echo the world the AuSable Forks resident put on canvas. He wrote of the beauty and danger he found in the cold wilderness, which we see in so many ...

‘Great Camps’ book made greater

When I first moved back to the Adirondacks, my wife and I attended a three-day workshop on great camps at Sagamore Institute on Raquette Lake. We were immediately hooked on both the history and the architectural aspects. Over time, and with the help of such groups as Adirondack Architectural ...

Poems of spirituality

These are poems of faith in a world where so much happens that can try the faith of the faithful. Using dreams, persona poems based on biblical characters, and meditations of daily devotion, Queensbury author Kathleen McCoy explores, through poems vivid and visceral, her experience of ...

Book explores why Confederate memorials were put up

The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis prompted more objections to Confederate memorials. Statues of generals who fought to enslave others are coming down. United States military leaders want forts named after generals who waged war against the United States to be renamed. Mitch ...

Brain tumor gives super sense, and adventure

  Dean Angel, the protagonist of Lake Placid author Samuel Dean’s “An Untamed Sea Story,” is going through some difficult times. The former police officer has been forced into retirement, his marriage has dissolved, and his doctor says, “I’m afraid that it won’t be a good morning ...

Guide goes extra mile for you and your dog

In full disclosure, I do not own a dog. But as a guide and erstwhile trail worker, I hike for a living and spend a lot of time with guidebooks. Canine companion or not, Alan Via’s new guidebook from SUNY Press is a phenomenal addition to any trail dog’s bookshelf. Via is an ...

An important look at small towns

At least four communities in the Adirondack North Country region — Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake, Glens Falls and Watertown — are currently working to implement strategies based on $10 million grants given by Gov. Cuomo and New York state for redevelopment of downtowns. Though no one opposes ...

Local history of disasters

This is not a book to be read cover to cover, too awful are the circumstances, the losses. But it is undeniably interesting to peek back in history to see what has befallen North Country communities and families, and how people rose together to help. Communities face a variety of ...