Dr. Robert Allen Durr - literary scholar, award-winning author, former confidant to legendary writer H. L. Mencken, and one-time rising star in the East Coast academic world - decided one day to give it all up and move to a remote region of Alaska in search of paradise.
Convinced that truth, beauty, and goodness could still be found in the wild, Durr bought a boat and journeyed to Bristol Bay in hopes of becoming a commercial salmon fisherman and earning a living. Catapulting the reader into this last frontier and onto a sea of storms and dangers, madcap bars and drinking parties, amid the camaraderie of some rugged Alaskans, mostly native fishermen known as D Inn Crowd, Down in Bristol Bay chronicles a hard life, but not without songs and ballads, misadventures and follies, occasionally of burlesque proportions, on land as well as at sea.
Combining elements of Krakaur's Into the Wild, Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard, Junger's The Perfect Storm, McPhee's Coming Into the Country, and even Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Down in Bristol Bay is a powerful and raucous memoir of a man who abandoned the safe world of academia for the Alaskan wilderness to find his own kind of primal sanity.
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"The frontier," writes Bob Durr, "has always been a peculiarly American obsession. In the early days it meant the possibility of a new start: if you were down on your luck ... you could head west into the unknown. But it was more than that, too...." The very existence of a frontier meant that there was a way out, an escape from the confines and corruption of civilized life.
In 1963 at age 43, Durr decided to face his own obsession: a lifelong yearning for an existence "reduced to elementals" and a profound distaste for the comfortable life. He began an adventure that ultimately led him to abandon his tenured professorship at Syracuse University and move his family to southcentral Alaska, America's last frontier. Down in Bristol Bay chronicles Durr's transformation from academic to frontiersman. Between 1964 and 1968, Durr left his family each spring and headed for Bristol Bay, Alaska, to establish himself as a commercial salmon fisherman--the best way "to earn a living consistent with my overriding wish to live in the woods"--no minor feat for a man with no training or experience in his new trade. But he soon found out that his survival in Bristol Bay was equally a matter of being accepted into the hard-drinking, sometimes dangerous, always outrageous clan of Lower-48 transplants and Alaska natives known around the Bay as D Inn Crowd.
Durr has written an unapologetic, rollicking, late-life coming-of-age story full of boozy revelations, adventure, and narrowly-averted disasters (how to catch many fish and not sink the boat while knocking back staggering quantities of Jim Beam). Thankfully, his story isn't the usual fortysomething fling with the rough life. After all these years, Durr still lives in Alaska, in a log cabin he built by himself. --Svenja SoldovieriFrom the Publisher:
"A rollicking romp of a read. Bob Durr brings to life the freedom and adventure of the real Alaska." --Richard Leo, author of Edges of the Earth "Here is the North Country memoir I've been looking for since my first trip to the Brook's Range in 1963: a wild story to admire by a white Alaskan, full of danger and adventure but gratefully free of the arrogance of one-upmanship, which plagues so much of the genre, and told with a curious and attractive openness--a humility that is itself the emotional posture behind reason. Bob Durr journeyed into the frontier not so much to find something of value to bring back to the world he left but to find the world itself. Mr. Durr knew in going [to Alaska] that man (or woman) is at his best when fitting the modern body and mind into the ancient topography of our primal life, whose remnants today we sometimes call the wilderness." --Doug Peacock, author of Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness
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Book Description St. Martin's Griffin, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0312267290
Book Description St. Martin's Griffin, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110312267290