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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bull Canyon, a Boatbuilder, a Writer and other Wildlife.

Book Review and Interview with Lin Pardey

In the tradition of Under the Tuscan Sun and A Year in Provence, Pardey takes readers on a voyage – landlocked, but a voyage nonetheless – of the heart, sharing candidly and with great humor the four years she and her determined husband spent in Bull Canyon. From the Thanksgiving when they had to hang the turkey from a ceiling hook to keep it safe from invading animals, to their constant companion, Dog (who is actually a cat), to Lin’s run-in with a couple of drunk hunters, to Larry’s careful coaxing of rough-sawn timber into the beautiful boat, Taleisin, their story, related in the warm, personal voice of the fireside storyteller, is a funny, tender, and engrossing tale. Bull Canyon is the story of two “dreamers and schemers” who have taken life by the horns – and bring the reader along for the wild and joyous ride. ~ www.lindpardey.com
You can read an excerpt from the book at www.linpardey.com
Bull Canyon by Lin Pardey was a terrific read. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this non-fictional account of "a Boatbuilder, a Writer and other Wildlife", but I was enticed right away by the image of the happy couple on the front cover. As I read, I came to admire and respect this couple, and I am grateful to Lin for having written this entertaining and uplifting story.

This is a true story, yet it reads like the best of fiction. I learned a little about boat building, life in a secluded canyon without the amenities I take for granted, and what it meant to this couple to have the freedom to set sail to any destination of their choosing. What I enjoyed most about this story was the sense of adventure, bravery and optimism it portrayed.

Lin and Larry faced some significant challenges throughout the period of time this story is based on, yet they rose to meet them expertly each time. There are some great lessons within, and reminders of what good living is all about. Without meaning to, I think, Lin and Larry provide a kind of blueprint, much like the one Larry relied on to build their boat, for living a happy and fulfilling life.

Bull Canyon is available in several formats from a number of booksellers listed following the interview. I highly recommend buying the hardcover version of this book for the photos it contains.

Please enjoy my interview with the charming Lin Pardey, and consider picking up a copy of Bull Canyon, a Boatbuilder, a Writer and other Wildlife, one of the most enjoyable books I have read this year.

Interview with Lin Pardey

Cookie’s Mom: Lin, thanks for speaking to me today. Will you please tell readers a little about yourself? How did you come to be a writer?

Lin: I never intended writing, didn’t like it in school – I was a numbers girl and a music wannabe. But when we set off cruising I found the free time was enjoyably filled by writing long letters to my Mom. Then two years later I read a story I didn’t agree with in a sailing magazine and wrote a strongly worded letter to the editor. The editor wrote back almost immediately. "Prove it!" was all his telegram said. Larry urged me to try writing something. It took six months to get my first article done but it was accepted and paid for within four weeks of sending it to that editor. The check came back with a list of article suggestions the editor hoped I’d try writing. I hope the pages of Bull Canyon show how I honed my skills. By the way, when my Mom began seeing my stories in magazines she wrote, "If you hadn’t started writing those letters to me, you wouldn’t have discovered what a good writer you were."

Cookie’s Mom: When did you write Bull Canyon (e.g. how soon after launching Taleisin)? How have you managed to remember such detail? Are there any embellishments to the truth in the name of storytelling? It’s a fabulous story whether or not all of it is strictly true.

Lin: Log books or journals became part of my life as soon as I was introduced to offshore sailing. Usually, when we are sailing I just jot down a few lines to record the main happenings of the day, the miles sailed or the work we did to maintain the boat. I carried the habit onshore when we moved to Bull Canyon in late 1979. Then, almost as soon as we moved into the old stone house, crazy incidents began happening. I knew there would be a story to tell some day and I wrote down, almost verbatim, the conversations with neighbors, with officials. Every word of the crash story related in the beginning of the book was written down the night it happened. Within a few months Larry began encouraging me to write about these incidents, citing an old book both of us really liked called, The Egg and I. (The characters from that book formed the basis for the TV series, The Beverly Hillbillies.) "The characters we’re meeting here are just as interesting," Larry insisted. I did try writing a book about my neighbors and about the canyon as it was all happening, but somehow it didn’t seem to jell. I put the idea aside for many years. Then almost 20 years after we left the canyon, we sailed to Argentina, bound for Cape Horn. At the Yacht Club Argentino in Mar del Plata I met a wonderful woman, Maria Eugenia Bestani who is a professor of English Literature at a major Argentinian University. She asked if I had ever written anything that wasn’t about sailing. I dug out the first five chapters of the manuscript I was then calling Noah and the Roadrunner and she really got excited. "All that is wrong is, you are leaving yourself out of the story," Maria told me. That set a small spark glowing in the back of my mind. About a year later I dug out the journal from those days in the canyon, one that is labeled, Rocky Ranch Chronicles and used it as my guide, but now realized I had to write it as a memoir.

Every word of this story is true. But, I did have to downplay some of the incidents as they were even wilder than what I wrote and I worried no one would believe them otherwise. I also had to leave some great incidents out just to maintain the flow of the book. You would have laughed at the sight of a Hollywood mogul and his high fashion model in 4 inch heels stepping out of their Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, into the dust of our boatyard and the story of how they all ended up in the creek at midnight – with Larry rushing in like a knight on a prancing white stallion (well, in our dusty pick up truck) to rescue them.

Cookie’s Mom: I'm sure I would have laughed at that sight! It's a shame you had to exclude some of your adventures or downplay them - I would have loved to read about them in their entirety - but the book does flow extremely well. You have a great story here!

How does it feel to look back now on this important chapter in your life? Have you enjoyed bringing it back to life again with this story?

Lin: Not only have I loved bringing my time in the canyon back to life, but so have many of our friends who came to visit us there. Most amazing thing is, Jimmie Moore who is such a vital part of this story, read the book – then went to look at the old stone cottage. He is now, after 27 years, living there again, fixing it up. Even more amazing is, the canyon is still forgotten and little changed.

Cookie’s Mom: Has there been any backlash from the people you mention in the book? I’m thinking in particular of ‘Bob Steele’, Sandy, Ellie, your mom. Did anyone resent the way they were portrayed or that they were written about at all?

Lin: Bob Steele, Ellie and the Newhouses are no longer here. My Mom really liked this book, said I had the right to show her as I saw her. I was worried my brother and sister might be uncomfortable with what was written. That is why the dedication is to them with the words, "unwitting victims of their sisters writing habits." My sister said my portrayal was accurate. My brother protested mildly until his wife said, "Allen, she’s got you spot on." She hugged him and then he laughed and began planning a party so all his friends could see the book.

Cookie’s Mom: This will be the first review and interview I have written for my blog where I recommend buying the hardcover version of a book over the electronic version. The story is excellent and I also recommend the Kindle version for those who prefer it, but I believe part of the experience is lost without the photos. Those that elect to buy the Kindle version will want to know that your website includes a photo gallery. One of the things that made your book so enjoyable was the inclusion of carefully selected photos—not too many, just the right number and just the right ones. These photos, rendered beautifully in black and white for your book, are available in colour on your site.

Lin: Interestingly, I did not intend including pictures in this book at first. But then when some of the members of my island readers group offered to vet the manuscript for me they all said, "We want to see the progress of the boat. You use it as a time line but don’t actually describe what it looks like. We want some pictures." The book designer said the same but added, "let’s make them look like snapshots you’d show friends as you told a story like this one." Larry wanted pictures because he took most of them. Seems they were all correct.

Cookie’s Mom: You mention in the book coming to the realization that fiction was not your forté. As someone with an interest in writing, I appreciated you sharing this insight. I too prefer to write about real life and real people. Is Bull Canyon a book that came from this realization?

Lin: Yes, Bull Canyon is definitely the result of that realization. I am a story teller, but do not have a great imagination. Thus I need to tell the stories I have taken part in. Fortunately I have a lot of them due to our wandering life.

Cookie’s Mom: That approach definitely works for you. This book reads like great fiction. It is full of adventures most of us will never experience except vicariously.

I appreciated your answer to your friend's question, What constitutes the good life? You said, "That’s easy. Good health. Time to contemplate and appreciate what we have. Someone to share it with. One’s own individual accomplishments. Celebration and community."

Lin: The wonderful thing about your question is, the person who asked me is a very favourite friend who I only see occasionally. We are on a book promotion tour right now, traveling along the US east coast and tomorrow I get to spend lots of time with Lillian Jarman and several other friends Larry and I have not seen in several years. Talk about celebration.

Cookie’s Mom: I like your answer so much, I'm going to pin it up on my wall, as you did, where I can see it and evaluate how I'm doing.

I note some interesting parallels (from an observer’s perspective) between a sailing life and your life in the Canyon. They both involve moments of peacefulness, the contemplative space you spoke about above, as well as adventure. In both environments, you plan as best you can for events and elements of nature of which you are aware and then relinquish control where you have none. The "tidy little plan" you refer to in the book is better than none. Beyond that, the only thing you can control is your reaction to events.

Lin: I am not sure who coined the phrase but I guess what I try to remember is, The difference between adventure and ordeal is attitude.

Cookie's Mom: That sums up the overall feeling of this story very well. I was left with an admiration for your strength and endurance, and am inspired to approach life's challenges in the gentle, open way that you modeled in the book.

You mention having a "mental radar detector" that presents the right person to you at the right time to give you whatever help you need. Where others may stall at the smallest of setbacks, you have triumphed in the face of very challenging events. Why do you think this is?

Lin: The minute you deviate from the normal path in life, I think you meet people who find you or your project interesting. Thus, they are ready to chat with you. But of course being open in the first place (and non-intimidating = I am only 4’10 and female) probably helps a lot.

Cookie's Mom: Larry offers some real pearls of wisdom when they are needed. For example, when you wonder how a person builds something as big as a boat – "a really daunting task" – Larry offers this gem:
"You don’t build a boat, Lin….You build a keel timber. When that’s finished, you build a stem. Think of each piece as a separate goal in itself and watch the pieces fit together until you have a complete boat. That way you can enjoy each step and celebrate each triumph without getting overwhelmed."

This is a great analogy for all of us in the building of whatever our "boat" is. You both experienced some very difficult times, and some frustrating setbacks. Was Larry the rock he appeared to be in those hard times?

Lin: Larry has been wonderfully supportive from the moment we first met. At times he appeared to be an absolute tower of strength. Then I found there were times when he got completely foxed by life but, fortunately, they were caused by problems that I didn’t find daunting. I used to joke, "If both of us were down at the same time, the world would end." But somewhere along the way I came to realize one or the other of us might have, at various times, hidden their doubts, their fears just to help the other over the hurdle.
"Remember, this mast doesn’t have to support itself, it’s just the strut that supports the sails. The wire rigging supports the mast. It’s sort of like a good marriage, each partner adding completely different types of strength, working together, supporting each other but still staying flexible..."

Cookie’s Mom: However you manage it, you two do seem to have figured out the key to a strong marriage. It's nice to see, and it comes through in your telling of this story.

Lin, thank-you so much for sharing your story, and thank-you for speaking with me today.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"As I walked over toward the house to shower off the woodchips that dusted me from head to toe, I stopped for a moment and glanced first at the boatshed then at the stone cottage. For that moment, I questioned my desire to sail away instead of savoring this place we’d worked so hard to change into a comfortable home. I wondered if Larry and I were tempting fate with out desire to launch this boat and spend the next years of our life wandering freely wherever we wanted to go. Then I noticed a flight of Canadian geese winging northward above me and as I watched the ragged V they formed I realized, for me there was really no choice. I knew the cottage offered an appearance of security but the boat would soon give me the ongoing adventure I craved." 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bull Canyon is available in hardcover and Kindle formats from Amazon.com. The book is also available through Paracay.com at a 20% discount off of the retail price: Get the coupon code here!

Visit Lin and Larry and the website for Bull Canyon at http://www.linpardey.com/

Lin and Larry Pardey have a sailing blog where they chronicle their adventures and provide tips to other sailors. Lin’s Blog can be found here: http://www.linpardey.com/lins-blog

Fans of sailing will want to check out the Pardeys' DVD program Cruising Has no Limits as it shows three of their sailing adventures – it's not technical at all. It can be downloaded at TheSailingChannel.TV, rented or purchased through YouTube, or purchased through Paracay.com.

A selection of Lin's books:

Other books by Lin Pardey can be found at Lin's Amazon author page or at the Pardeys' website.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Larry was born and raised in British Columbia (just across the Rockies from Cookie's Mom).
First Boat, Indian dug out canoe, age 9. First sail boat - self-restored 8' EL TORO pram, age 17. 1st cruising boat - self-restored 20 foot Colin Archer Cutter. 1st racing boat, age 19 - self-restored 27 foot Tumlaren Sloop. 205,000 sea miles
Lin was born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in Los Angeles County.
Early sailing experience - summer sailing on lakes of Michigan in 14 foot Old Town Sloop until age of 5. Studied accounting and music. 198,000 sea miles
Lin and Larry met in 1965, romanced three weeks, joined forces June 12, 1965, and married October 31st 1968.

TALEISIN was designed for Lin and Larry by Lyle C Hess in 1977. Launched 10/ 31/1983. Length on deck 29′ 6″, waterline 27′ 6″, beam 10′ 9″, draft 5′ 3″, displacement for cruising 17,800. Racing displacement 16,400. Sail area – 740 square feet. Construction – Built by Lin and Larry, teak carvel planking over sawn black locust frames, bronze floors, bronze hanging knees. Solid teak decks, material cost $US 38,000 complete.

Voyaged – 80,000 miles sailing westward from California through Pacific. Two voyages from New Zealand to Australia and return. Then through Cook Straits of New Zealand to Sydney, south to Tasmania, westward through Australian bight to Indian Ocean, South Africa, Brazil, Ireland, England, Scotland and Norway. East coast of US, then south to Argentina and westward around Cape Horn across outbound track to complete circumnavigation in 2003, then on to Canada. After spending three seasons exploring the sounds from Desolation sound to Seattle she cruised the west coast of North America then cross the Pacific via the Line Islands, Samoa and Tonga to finish another circumnavigation in New Zealand.


Kath said...

wow what a great blog! I love book reviews so I will have to stay tuned for more and keep looking around. i had never heard of this book before but it definitely looks interesting after your interview. take care.

I'm a new follower! (and thanks for stopping by the dragons fairy tail)

Cookie’s Mom said...

Kathryn, thank-you for your compliments! I tend to review less well known books that aren't promoted by big book sellers, but that are equally good (if not better). I hope you find something here you will enjoy!

Thanks so much for stopping by, thanks for commenting and thanks for following! I'm following you back.

Claudine Gueh said...

The review got me curious and the interview intrigued me. I'd love to read Lin and Larry's story! And I love the bit on how Lin got started in writing. (I'm also tickled by how they'd called their cat Dog ...)

I'm thrilled to be following you, too, Cookie's Mom!

Twitter: @CarryUsOffBooks

Cookie’s Mom said...

Thank-you, Claudine! :) Let me know if you have a chance to read it and what you think, will you?

Crazy Life of a Writing Mom said...

This sounds like such a wonderful book. I LOVE the ocean and boating, so I can already tell that I need to read the excerpt :)

This makes me miss living in California. :)

Cookie’s Mom said...

Elisabeth, if you love the ocean and boating and California, you may love this book even more than I did! I find that the story book appeals to such a wide audience, whether or not there is an interest in sailing. I hope you get a chance to read it. If you do, I'd love to know your thoughts!

Alison said...

What an interesting book! It sounds like the kind of book that can feed my desire for adventure--and teach great life lessons--even though my life right now leans more toward armchair adventures.

Cookie’s Mom said...

Alison, this is the perfect book for armchair enthusiasts like us! I hope you enjoy it!

TyKes Mom said...

Great review! I love anything having to do with the ocean, so this definitely seems like a book I could get lost in. I also really enjoyed reading an interview since, on most sites, you just get the review.

Cookie’s Mom said...

Thanks so much, Tykes Mom! I really enjoy doing the interviews!

Dina said...

following back from vb. I love books too! Loved reading about the books you review and the authors bios too!

Cookie’s Mom said...

Thanks Dina. Thanks for visiting and following. I hope you find some helpful book ideas here!

Rica said...

great review..it sound interesting:)

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