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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
A scull seems an unlikely place for romance; but, after peeling back all the muscle-ripping, digit-freezing, grizzly-fearing drama that's inherent to rowing in the Arctic, that's exactly what you'll find at the heart of Rowing to Latitude. Faithful to that classic literary form, author Jill Fredston and her husband, Doug Fesler, are engaged in an ongoing quest to experience the earth's last remaining truly wild areas. Along the way, we share in their various entanglements -- being showered with the nearly-permanent stench of whale spout, watching innocuous snowdrifts morph rather too quickly into hungry polar bears -- all of which Fredston recounts in a vastly readable style marked by a plucky, self-deprecating wit and a feeling of inclusion for the less athletically/adventurously inclined among her readers.
Fredston's powers of observation are remarkable, concomitant with a gift for conveying them into resonant language: Sea swells are "boiling hydraulics," and a border of coastline on a map becomes a "swatch of decaying lace held to the sky." You can also sense the deep and genuine passion Fredston has for nature in, for example, her simple yet scathing indictment of timber clear-cutting practices or through the elevation to an art form of the simple yet infinitely loving act of carefully cleaning up each campsite to let whoever may follow experience the full thrill of discovering pure wild country. That passion is likewise present in the work's episodic structure.
Whether it's the exhilaration of Alaska's "Inside Passage" or another summer's exploration of the more domesticated Norwegian coast, you understand that for Fredston and Fesler, life may go on in the meantime, but that it is only truly lived with oars in hand. And that feeling, so wonderfully common to Rowing to Latitude as it is to any good romance, is something to be savored. (Fall 2001 Selection)