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Passage to Juneau by Jonathan Raban
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Passage to Juneau (1999)

by Jonathan Raban

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5771417,144 (4.05)20
  1. 10
    Coasting by Jonathan Raban (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: It is difficult to choose between these marvellous travel narratives but Coasting (an earlier work) is full of the humanity of Raban's writing. Passage is more scholarly, containing deep history, but has a theme of loss. Coasting celebrates both the travel and the country.… (more)
  2. 10
    High endeavours : the life and endeavours of Miles and Beryl Smeeton by Miles Clark (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Raban encompasses the spirit of the Smeetons and pays a respectful visit to their memory during his passage.
  3. 00
    Hatteras Blues: A Story from the Edge of America by Tom Carlson (kenno82)
  4. 00
    Omeros by Derek Walcott (thorold)
    thorold: Raban does in prose what Walcott does in verse for the diagonally-opposite corner of the continent.
  5. 00
    Old Glory : A Voyage Down the Mississippi by Jonathan Raban (John_Vaughan)
  6. 00
    Driving Home: An American Journey by Jonathan Raban (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: The author's own passage to 'home' in the NW.
  7. 00
    A Whale Hunt: How a Native-American Village Did What No One Thought It Could by Robert Sullivan (kenno82)
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English (13)  Dutch (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Rather as he does in Coasting, Raban takes the conventional framework of the travel narrative and shakes it up to give structure to a complex, multifaceted meditation on the ways people engage with places and struggle to find sense in them. The result is more like a narrative poem than a prose travel book — ideas and trains of thought are linked by being juxtaposed and intermingled in the text, rather than by the author drawing explicit connections between them. The closest parallel I could think of to the effect is Derek Walcott's Omeros, but Raban manages to do it without the safety-net of poetic meter. Daring, elegant, and extremely rewarding for the reader, even if Raban's bleak mood is sometimes a bit hard to take. ( )
  thorold | Jun 16, 2014 |
Whatever it was or is that readers love about this book, unfortunately I think I missed it. It didn't feel like Raban had his heart in the trip at all, and he rarely has a positive thing to say about anything. In fact, in most cases he belittles the people he meets. I would hate to make an appearance in one of his books through fear of what he might say. Don't get me wrong, at times his writing is fantastic - especially in the second half of the book when events mean that the story becomes more personal. However, for a lot of the book he retells Captain Vancouver's search for the north passage as a parallel story. One which I found frustrating. ( )
  kenno82 | Jul 5, 2013 |
I had wanted to read this book for several years, and it was worth the wait. Rabin salts his story of his solo journey up the Inside Passage with vignettes of George Vancouver's journeys in these waters, Northwest native stories, and more. The voyage ends in disappointment and change, but the book does not. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
Like all good travel books, this one uses the journey as a frame for a much wider set of reflections than going from here to there, and the author comes to the task armed with information, allusion, and insight -- plus, he can really put a sentence together.

I got annoyed at a tendency to look down on his fellow travelers (and just about everyone else he met on the trip) and saw the ending coming a mile away, but although those two flaws took much away from the book, it remained for me very good reading. ( )
  steve.clason | Feb 10, 2012 |
A title for those who sail small craft, those inspired by the seas of the world and the navigation there of, and those with an interest in the Inside Passage to Alaska. Raban is a seasoned voyageur, writer and observer. I learned alot about the "First People" of the Pacific NW, the voyages of Capt. George Vancouver and the contemporary life of Alaskans along the passage.
  splinfo | Sep 1, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
''Passage to Juneau'' shows that the sea isn't only the antonym of land, that wilderness is something other than civilization's absence. For like beauty -- or like the sublime, to which Raban devotes some of his best pages -- the wilderness has its being in the beholder's eye.
added by John_Vaughan | editNY Times, Michael Gorra (Jul 14, 1999)
 
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Epigraph
Je sens vibrer en moi toutes les passions
D'un vaisseau qui souffre:
Le bon vent, la tempete et ses convulsions

Sur l'immense gouffre
Me bercent. D'autres fois, calme plat, grand miroir
De mon desespoir!

- Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal
'That's a funny piece of water,' said Captain Hamilton
- Joseph Conrad, The Shadow Line
Dedication
For Julia
First words
He was walking the dock; a big lummox, yellow hair tied back in a ponytail with a red bandanna, bedroll strapped to his shoulders.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679776141, Paperback)

British-born Jonathan Raban sets out on a passage from Seattle to Juneau in a small boat that is more a waterborne writing den, and as usual with the brilliant Raban, this journey becomes a vehicle for history and heart-stopping descriptions that will make readers want to hail him as one of the finest talents who's picked up a pen in the 20th century. The voyage through the Inside Passage from Washington's Puget Sound to Alaska churns up memories and stirs up hidden emotions and Raban dwells on many, including the death of his father and his own role of Daddy to his young daughter, Julia, left behind in Seattle. More than just a personal travelogue, however, Passage to Juneau deftly weaves in the stories of others before him--from Indians whom white men formerly greeted with baubles set afloat on logs, to Captain Vancouver, who risked mutiny on his ship when he banned visits with prostitutes, some of whom offered their services for bits of scrap metal. Pressed into every page are intimate descriptions of life at sea--the fog-shrouded coasts, the crackly radio that keeps him linked to the mainland, the salty marine air, and the fellow sailors who are likewise drawn by a life of tossing on water. While Raban successfully steers his boat to the desired port, readers ultimately discover that this insightful, talented sage is in fact emotionally in deep water and may not fully be captain of his own life. --Melissa Rossi

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:00 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The Inside Passage from Puget Sound to Alaska is winding, turbulent, and deep--an ancient, thousand-mile-long sea route, rich in dangerous whirlpools, eddies, rips, and races. Here flourished the canoe culture of the Northwest Indians, with their fantastic painted masks and complex iconography and their stories of malign submarine gods and monsters. The unhappy British ship Discovery, captained by George Vancouver, came through these open reaches and narrow chasms in 1792. The early explorers were quickly followed by fur traders, settlers, missionaries, anthropologists, fishermen, and tourists, each with their own designs on this intricate and haunted sea.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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