Rogue River Journal: A Winter Alone
Book: Rogue River Journal: A Winter Alone , by John Daniel, ISBN10: 1593761058, ISBN13: 9781593761059, Counterpoint, April 2006, Paperback
In November of 2000, after the presidential election but before the results were handed down by the Supreme Court, John Daniel climbed into his pickup, drove to a cabin in the Red River Gorge, and quit civilization for a proscribed time. The strictures set up were severe: no two-way human communications, no radio, no music, no news, no clocks, and no calendars. The award-winning writer left his wife behind and moved into a cabin sure to be snowed-in just after his arrival, where he lived in complete isolation until spring, without even his cat as a companion.
He was intent on not hearing a human voice other than his own for the next six months. Thoreau's Journals were there, of course, for instruction and inspiration. In addition to the physical rigor of working in isolation, Daniel had assumed a hard spiritual task in deciding to live alone: to confront his now dead father. Rogue River Journal is the result, with writing as skilled as Jon Krakauer'sa remarkable memoir of both vivid present and past interwoven.
John Daniel has written eight books of nonfiction and poetry. Here he writes of his experience living in a small cabin in the Rogue River Valley in Oregon from November 2000 to March 2001 in complete solitude. He did this to see if he could survive without other humans and if his time alone would lead to purer reflections on his own life, on the life of his father, Franz Daniel, a labor organizer, and on nature and civilizationnot a small task to accomplish in four months. While he took some safety precautions, including setting up a method to call in, but not talk, to his wife on a regular basis, he depended on himself for entertainment and inspiration. He raised vegetables, fished, and wrote about life with his parents, his relationship with his father, his experiences as a young man in the 1960s who dropped out of college, refused to be inducted into the army, worked as a lumberjack, and experimented with drugs, love and careers, until he became a writer. His observations about our culture, including the fact that he left before the 2000 Presidential election was decided, are always thoughtful, sometimes funny and self-deprecating and will keep you wondering how you would do, alone in the woods for four months.
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