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Notes from The Century Before

A Journal from British Columbia

By , (Editor), David Quammen (Contributor)

Paperback published by Modern Library (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
In 1966, Edward Hoagland made a three-month excursion into the wild country of British Columbia and encountered a way of life that was disappearing even as he chronicled it. Showcasing Hoagland’s extraordinary gifts for portraiture—his cast runs from salty prospector to trader, explorer, missionary, and indigenous guide—Notes from the Century Before is a breathtaking mix of anecdote, derring-do, and unparalleled elegy from one of the finest writers of our time.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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In 1966, Edward Hoagland made a three-month excursion into the wild country of British Columbia and encountered a way of life that was disappearing even as he chronicled it. Showcasing Hoagland’s extraordinary gifts for portraiture—his cast runs from salty prospector to trader, explorer, missionary, and indigenous guide—Notes from the Century Before is a breathtaking mix of anecdote, derring-do, and unparalleled elegy from one of the finest writers of our time.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Product Details
Paperback (304 pages)
Published: February 12, 2002
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Modern Library
ISBN: 9780375759437
Other books byEdward Hoagland
  • Compass Points

    Compass Points
    How I Lived
    In a luminous memoir of a life richly lived, one of America’s finest writers explores the themes that have shaped his life and work: the glories of the natural world, the lure of working for a circus and fighting forest fires, the afflictions of temporary blindness and blocked speech, and the enduring influence of literary friendships, including John Berryman’s, Edward Abbey’s, and his mentor, Archibald MacLeish. From his childhood in rural Connecticut to some of the earth’s last remaining wildernesses, Hoagland has traveled the world wielding his unusual gift for observation. In Compass Points he delivers an honest and lively accounting of his voyages through two marriages; the New York parties he attended as a precocious young writer; Vermont hippiedom and academia; his many vivid sojourns into Europe, Alaska, British Columbia, the Sudan; and, perhaps most unforgettably, his stint in the “Animal Department” of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus fifty years ago. Leavened with Hoagland’s trademark humor and insight, Compass Points is an entertaining and moving account of the days and nights of one of our most eminent literary voices. From the Trade Paperback edition.

    Alaskan Travels

    Alaskan Travels
    Far-Flung Tales of Love and Adventure
    Thirty years ago, celebrated American writer Edward Hoagland, in his early fifties and already with a dozen acclaimed books under his belt, had a choice: a midlife crisis or a midlife adventure. He chose the adventure.  Pencil and notebook at the ready, Hoagland set out to explore and write about one of the last truly wild territories remaining on the face of the earth: Alaska. From the Arctic Ocean to the Kenai Peninsula, the backstreet bars of Anchorage to the Yukon River, Hoagland traveled the “real” Alaska from top to bottom. Here he documents not only the flora and fauna of America’s last frontier, but also the extraordinary people living on the fringe. On his journey he chronicles the lives of an astonishing and unforgettable array of prospectors, trappers, millionaire freebooters, drifters, oilmen, Eskimos, Indians, and a remarkably kind and capable frontier nurse named Linda. In his foreword, novelist Howard Frank Mosher describes Edward Hoagland’s memoir as “the best book ever written about America’s last best place.”  In the tradition of Twain’s Life on the Mississippi and Jonathan Rabin’s Old Glory, with a beautiful love story at its heart, this is an American masterpiece from a writer hailed by the Washington Post as “the Thoreau of our times.”

    Sex and the River Styx

    Sex and the River Styx
    Called the best essayist of his time by luminaries like Philip Roth, John Updike and Edward Abbey, Edward Hoagland brings readers his ultimate collection. In Sex and the River Styx, the author's sharp eye and intense curiosity shine through in essays that span his childhood exploring the woods in his rural Connecticut, his days as a circus worker, and his travels the world over in his later years. Here, we meet Hoagland at his best: traveling to Kampala to meet a family he'd been helping support only to find a divide far greater than he could have ever imagined; reflecting on aging, love, and sex in a deeply personal, often surprising way; and bringing us the wonder of wild places, alongside the disparity of losing them, and always with a twist that brings the genre of nature writing to vastly new heights. His keen dissection of social realities and the human spirit will both startle and lure readers as they meet African matriarchs, Tibetan yak herders, circus aerialists, and the strippers who entertained college boys in 1950s Boston. Says Howard Frank Mosher in his foreword, the self-described rhapsodist, "could fairly be considered our last, great transcendentalist."

    Early in the Season

    Early in the Season
    A British Columbia Journal
    By 1968, Edward Hoagland had successfully published three novels, including the award-winning Cat Man. Looking for material for his next book, he immersed himself in the British Columbia bush for seven weeks, recording his observations and interviews in a series of diaries that became the widely lauded travel book Notes from the Century Before. Early in the Season is an equally riveting account of his return journey. Early in the Season vividly evokes the vast stands of trees, the fast-flowing rivers, the rocky ridgelines of the province’s unspoiled central interior. Against this dramatic backdrop Hoagland profiles an extraordinary cast of characters from the region’s present and past: fearless, larger-than-life trader Skookum Davidson; self-proclaimed “Chinese-Indian medicine man” Luke Fowler; indomitable “Omineca River Queen” Agate Alexander; and many others. Poignant, probing, and historically rich, this book offers a window on the people and places that shaped British Columbia and a transporting read for anyone curious about life in one of the world's most majestic wildernesses.

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
  • Mapmakers must enjoy marking in Telegraph Creek. They've had it on Woolworth-type maps of the world and on desk-size globes, in the same lettering as Nice or Chicago.

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  • The sweep of it didn't appear below, the innumerable braided channels half drowning the lush valley forest. Another major glacier feeds in: blue ice and a black moraine like coffee...

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  • He boasts to me about a world-record “broad jump” she made years ago, after she'd brushed up against a hornet's nest. “That's quite a surprise, when you turn around and you see your wife...

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  • There's a motto on the wall from the Alaska Highway: Winding in and winding out Leaves my mind in serious doubt If the dude that built this road Was going to hell or coming out . . .

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  • Tedadiche Creek: It was so small you could step across it, and yet Dolly Varden spawned it in eight abreast at the end of May, crowded under the banks. He scooped out four hundred one...

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  • The beauty of the nights cannot be exaggerated, with the sky dove-white and the lake beaming up light and loveliness at it.

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  • I can't get over the evenings – the balmy air, the late, late daylight. Life catches a perfervid quality, although nothing happens. The sky and the lake are the color of mercury; the...

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  • Laid lushly as wool, the orange and yellow colors intensified and intensified, as gorgeous as organ music and spreading the width of the world.

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