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New T.R. Pearson Book

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Seaworthy : Adrift with William Willis in the Golden Age of Rafting 

Running a blog like this one, I generally know about books long before they actually hit bookstore shelves. I read about the deal being signed, then publicists inform me of release dates, I see the galleys, and so forth. It’s a perk, and a necessity, of operating a website like this.

However, there are rare moments when I miss the Christmas morning-like surprise of just walking into a bookstore and being utterly shocked, and excited, to see a new book by a favorite author. Luckily, it does still happen sometimes.

This morning, for example, I was thrilled to see that T.R. Pearson has a new book out. I had absolutely no idea that anything new was forthcoming. I’m so excited that I can’t wait for the stores to open so I can buy this new work of nonfiction.

The book is called Seaworthy: Adrift with William Willis in the Golden Age of Rafting. The fine folks at Square Books describe the book as “William Willis was sixty years old when he left Manhattan, constructed a balsawood raft, and sailed 4000 miles from Peru to Samoa. For company, he had only Eekie the parrot, Meekie the cat, and Long Tom, a brown shark whose dubious intentions compelled him to follow the raft for thousands of miles. Willis took nourishment only from spoonfuls of oil and flour, whatever flying fish flopped up on deck, and a cup of sea water a day, and unlike other rafting expeditions, Willis had no anthropological theories to prove about his adventure other than determining “how much I really can go through in the way of hardships.” And hardships there were: sails torn during a typhoon, a non-functioning transmitter, spoiled drinking water, Meekie falling overboard, the tragic demise of Eekie, not to mention a bleeding ulcer, temporary sun-blinding, a horribly painful hernia, and hallucinations from being absolutely alone. Like his fellow tarheel, Joseph Mitchell, Pearson can take an odd character like Willis and show him to be the lunatic he truly was while still respecting his amazing achievement.”

Pearson is one of my favorites because he’s a master of the Southern idiom. For the most part, he eschews writing dialects. Thankfully, he don’t do none of that thar mis-spellin’ stuff fer showing how pay-pel talk. He spellz wordz rill good ‘cuz he ain’t tryin’ to cotton up to fans of Mark Twain’s Jim-speak, ya know? But what he does is use unusual structures and turns-of-a-phrase to illustrate the Southernness of his characters. So I can’t wait to see what he does with this historical character.