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Passage to Juneau


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About the Author

Jonathan Raban lives in Seattle, Washington.


Raban's purring English accent, playful imitations and knowing intonations perfectly nuance this pared-down version of his acclaimed tale of sailing alone from Seattle to Juneau. His journey through a sea punctuated by the "skittish humor of whirlpools" and colored by "fifty shades of grey" is nicely paralleled with the same journey taken by others before him, including Captain Vancouver's own dour explorations in the 1790s. Throughout, Raban is an inventive reader, creating many voices for the characters that people his tale; his nasal whine for the sickly, uptight Vancouver is hilarious. This playfulness gently contrasts to his more thoughtful, meditative passages, which encompass Raban's awe of the landscape and considerations of his own life and the small communities that cling to the rocky edges of the Inside Passage from Washington to Alaska. Vintage trade paperback released in October. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Fans of Raban's chronicles of America's history (including the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Bad Land) will find another side of the author in this introspective and quite personal new work. Long fascinated by the Inside Passage (the protected waterway that runs from Washington State up to Alaska), Raban casts off in his 35' ketch from his home port in Seattle to follow in the wake of generations of salmon fishermen. He draws a rather dark portrait of the region as he fills out its history, through the cranky journals of Captain Vancouver and others, and meditates on the beautiful but threatening and lonesome landscape, with its struggling communities, submerged mountains, tricky waters, and names like Deception Pass and Desolation Sound. When his trip gets interrupted by his father's death, and he finds himself increasingly cut off from his young daughter and wife (by a series of broken phones in economically depressed ports of call and by emotional distance), Raban's journey becomes an extremely personal one. Although the end result is a bit overlong, this is ultimately a fascinating and informative read. Recommended for public libraries.ÄRebecca Miller, "Library Journal" Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

"A work of great beauty and inexhaustible fervor." --The Washington Post Book World

"Endlessly suggestive. . . . Nobody now writing keeps a more provocative house than Jonathan Raban." --The New York Times Book Review

"A great book by the very best contempoary writer afloat." --The Oregonian

"Raban is a super-sensitive, all-seeing eye. He spots things we might otherwise miss; he calls up the apt metaphors that transform things into phenomena--. One of our most gifted observers."--Newsday

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