Traces Of Thoreau: A Cape Cod Journey

Overview

In Traces of Thoreau, Stephen Mulloney faithfully follows his 1849 walking tour from Orleans to Provincetown, vividly describing not only the differences between yesterday's Cape and today's but also their timeless similarities. In duplicating Thoreau's journey, Stephen Mulloney captures views of the Cape rarely seen by tourists and allows the reader to explore and contemplate the Great Outer Beach as if for the first time.

Mulloney's entertaining travelogue gives us nature by ...

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Overview

In Traces of Thoreau, Stephen Mulloney faithfully follows his 1849 walking tour from Orleans to Provincetown, vividly describing not only the differences between yesterday's Cape and today's but also their timeless similarities. In duplicating Thoreau's journey, Stephen Mulloney captures views of the Cape rarely seen by tourists and allows the reader to explore and contemplate the Great Outer Beach as if for the first time.

Mulloney's entertaining travelogue gives us nature by day — with captivating descriptions of plants, animals, and geological features — and civilization by night as he seeks food and lodging in beach communities swarming with visitors. Here one meets a delightful sampling of colorful Cape characters, from members of the cocktail set to Wellfleet oystermen encountered in a working-class bar.

Traces of Thoreau richly conveys the grandeur of beach and sky juxtaposed with fast food stands and miniature golf. It is a celebration of the bare beauty of the landscape and an invitation to share the meditations of a modern-day Thoreau who rediscovers the restorative powers of one of America's most scenic locales.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
No doubt many people have read Thoreau's Cape Cod and pledged to follow his footstepsto walk from Eastham to Provincetown and then "make a book on Cape Cod." So you've got to admire Mulloney's tenacity, even if his version of his journey tends to be rather, well, pedestrian. A media affairs specialist with the Massachusetts Legislature, Mulloney isn't exactly a subtle writer ("Boom! Now there was a wave!" he observes, only minutes after another wave "ran up the shore and grabbed [him] around the ankles." He also has a penchant for hyperbole, though it could be his way of paying homage to Thoreau. Regardless, it's gratinga look becomes "a gander" and the sun is either "that supreme luminary," "a ruby red circle shining through a veil of vapor" or "the hot star." It might help if he were consistent, but mixing modern slang with antiquated formal language (one minute he's going on about "a Munchkin-sized woman" and the next he's complaining about her "doleful mien") only highlights the problem. Mulloney's real strength is his knowledge of the Cape; he used to be a television reporter there, and his descriptions will resonate with anyone familiar with the region. He also offers insightful commentary on everything from development and environmental issues to local lingo (including the all-important distinction between locals and natives). (June)
Library Journal
Any writer with the temerity to begin a first book with "It was a dark and stormy night..." deserves our attention for the remainder of the sentence, which continues "honest to God it was, that Ides of March eve of the fateful encounter." Mulloney has us hooked for the remainder of the paragraph, and from there it's an enjoyable sojourn to the end of the read. He is a television and radio reporter and also a media affairs specialist with the Massachusetts legislaturehardly the credentials one would expect of a person attempting a walk in Thoreau's footsteps on Cape Cod. But walk and write he does, observing with intelligence, appreciation, and wry good humor all that he discovers. One need not be familiar with Thoreau's classic Cape Cod to enjoy this contemporary journey. Mulloney has familiarized himself with local flora and fauna, in addition to absorbing the geology of this unusual landmass; he's a perceptive observer of the human condition as well. Recommended for most collections.Janet N. Ross, Sparks Branch Lib., NV
Kirkus Reviews
Following the route taken by Thoreau during his 1849 sojourn on Cape Cod, Mulloney, in his debut, seeks to chart the harmonies and dissonances between now and then. Smitten by the transcendentalist's Cape Cod at a time when he was looking for direction in his life (this is confided to readers in the introduction, whereafter he pretty much absents himself from the narrative), Mulloney decided to walk in Thoreau's footprints along the cape's outer beach, hoofing the strand from Orleans to Provincetown. Fortunately, Mulloney doesn't stifle his book by adhering to every jot and tittle of Thoreau's itineraryþand he probably couldn't have, considering the cape's ever- changing topography. He just wants to get a shot at some of the sublime intimations Thoreau experienced and to see how things have changed. Mulloney was prepared for the excursion. He was previously a reporter for a cape TV station; he boned up on his coastal geology and botany and bird life; he delved deeply into the cape's embarrassment of literary riches. So he is able to speak with familiarity of poverty grass and skate eggs, kettles and drumlins, the cape-tethered writings of Henry Beston and Norman Mailer and Cynthia Huntington. But there is little in the way of personal insight. As he makes his way up the forearm of the cape, he bounces between nuggets of historical interest and his own everyday encounters, slips in mini-lectures on natural history, knits Thoreau's trip to his own, all in a tone of unstinting and nonjudgmental bonhomie. Confronted with RVs or the spread of malls or the disputatious Cape Cod Commission, Mulloney will choose a rowboat every time. And like Thoreau, he has a taste for bad puns:Gazing upon a gnarled pine that reminds him of musical notation, he suggests, "Sea sharp?" An eager but soulless pocket tour of the outer shores of Cape Cod: bright, conversant, and without much personality. (illustrations, not seen)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555533434
  • Publisher: Northeastern University Press
  • Publication date: 6/19/1998
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.90 (d)

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