This seemed like my kind of book a relatively quick read and then onto the next volume but several months on and I am only just writing the review. This is not due to laziness on my part but a reflection of the speed at which I read the book. I was keen to read it quicker but the richness of the language and the description of the journey slowed me down. This is a book to savour, not to rush through and then discard. It is also much more than a sea kayaking book, it is a social commentary on a way of life and a community that is fast disappearing, largely as a result of mans insatiable greed with little thought to the environmental consequences. He undertook the circumnavigation in 1997 and I am left wandering what further changes there have been in the intervening years.
This is also a book about sea kayaking though. Newfoundland is big, just take a note next time you are crossing the Atlantic how long it takes to fly over the Province. And it’s empty, if there are no clouds try to discern any settlements, or other signs of human activity. There aren’t that many. Michael paddled around the island but it was no simple journey, there are highly descriptive passages of the strong winds and high seas that he encountered.
The most outstanding passage, for me though, is when a large whale accompanies him whilst paddling towards a significant headland and he encounters a group of feeding humpback whales. This has to be one of the most memorable pieces of writing in almost any sea kayaking book that I have come across.
Although the book is written in the form of a chronological log it avoids the trap of falling into a simple description of food eaten, miles paddled and places camped, as so many books do. Yes those facts are covered but we are introduced to the diverse range of characters who inhabit the more remote corners of the island. Conversations are written in the style of Newfoundland accent, which is a bit of a challenge to the untrained eye at first but it gradually becomes easier.
If you are interested in sea kayaking, and I assume you are reading this blog then this is a book for you. Read it and become absorbed in a journey through a human and physical landscape which is in danger of disappearing.
The only thing that I couldn’t figure out is whether the title has its origins in the song “Rant and Roar”, which I have heard performed by Newfoundland band Great Big Sea.
This is not an easy book to come by, it is available from Michael at www.walktheline.ca, and is well worth the effort searching out a copy.