Halfway to Halfway and Back: More River Stories
Bob Volpert, contributor
This is a new collection of stories that capture the essence and mood of river guiding. Twenty former and current river guides wrote the 41 stories in this compilation. The tales focus on river related events that usually have little to do with whitewater. Some don’t even take place on a river. All say a lot about the culture of guiding and the people attracted to wild places and the odd things that happen once they get there. These are the stories shared around a campfire after a day on the water. Some are funny, some sad, some quirky, but they all come from personal river experiences and lifelong friendships.
With this second assortment of stories about river guiding in the U.S. and the people who do it for a living, Linford and Volpert deliver a raucous and delightful collection. The editors have a rare talent for picking stories with opening sentences that capture the reader’s attention instantly (“I suppose the goats might have been an omen”; “We were both naked”). What nearly every selection also does is create quick but lingering character sketches that convey the guides’ resilience, flair for innovation, and “relentless pursuit of laughter.” Many contributors joined the river life “almost by accident,” often starting with a summer job. Many found partners equally in love with this unique avocation, and some, like both Linford and Volpert, had children who grew up to also pursue lives on the river. Not every story is lighthearted—there are a few sad ones, too, such as a tribute to a friend and fellow guide who, afflicted by PTSD from his service in the Vietnam War, died by suicide. There’s also a brief look at how, with some difficulty, women were gradually accepted as river guides. Every story in the book is well worth one—or two—thoughtful reads. (BookLife)