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From a Wooden Canoe: Reflections on Canoeing, Camping, and Classic Equipment [Paperback]

Jerry Dennis , Glenn Wolff
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 8 2000
Jerry Dennis has earned a reputation as one of the finest writers on nature and the outdoors in America today. Now in From a Wooden Canoe, he turns his attention to old passions and discovers new reasons to appreciate them.

This engaging collection explores the quintessential American sports of canoeing and camping and pays tribute to the things worth keeping, from wooden canoes to pocket knives to cast-iron skillets. At a deeper level, it is about respect - for our possessions, for the natural world, for ourselves - and about the pleasures of a life well spent.

From a Wooden Canoe is a celebration of the good things and the simple pleasures of life outdoors. It is a book to be treasured, to be read on winter evenings and rainy afternoons, and to be kept handy on a cabin shelf.

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Collected from his "Traditions" column for Canoe and Kayak Magazine, From a Wooden Canoe pays tribute to the trusty hunting jackets that never seem to wear out, the sharpened pocket knives that men wear like badges, and the union suits they'll take to the grave. Dennis even dedicates a chapter to the unquestionable brilliance of duct tape. The atmosphere here is rustic do-it-yourself, memorializing a time when coated nylon was a fad and canvas was the standard. If you get misty for all that is well built and steeped in tradition, reading Jerry Dennis will be more like settling back down in front of the wood stove--a welcome respite from the chill of modern life. --Ben Tiffany --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"From a Wooden Canoe is the most satisfying kind of nature writing because it makes you want to get up and get out. Give these essays a good read, and then find your own canoe." -The Wall Street Journal

"[Dennis] brings a bright, childlike eagerness to these days on the stream or in the field and forest, burnishing their memory with thoughtfulness and elegance." --Kirkus Reviews

"Anything [Dennis] writes is worthy of a place on your nightstand, alongside your favorite recliner, or in a special spot on the bookshelf to be taken down from time to time and revisited like an old friend." --Oakland Press

"With this reader, Dennis is preaching to the converted. But I suspect even city slickers couldn't help but warm to his opinions." --Seattle Times

"More than anything, Dennis offers us an appreciation of the simpler things in life that many times pass us by in our break-neck pace of living. He shows us that just off the beaten path is a slower avenue, taken by countless generations before us and still available to enjoy if only we would take the time to look." --The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

"Michigan is lucky to have and have had such clear voices speaking for it as Voelker and Dennis." --Gray's Sporting Journal

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Reflections on the water July 1 2002
More of a gentle cruise than a furious whitewater paddle, "From a Wooden Canoe" is easily dismissed as superficial and irrelevant to modern times. Taking more than a casual glance, however, is worth the effort. Mr Dennis can write and, when he is tackling a subject dear to his heart, he achieves an apparently effortless grace. The topics here vary from the predictable (a woollen hunting jacket)to the eccentric (shuttle cars, for example) and cover concepts as well as items, outlining the delights of good coffee and a bright red union suit in a couple of pages of easy prose. There is little real depth of information, but it is important to consider that such is not the purpose of the book: this is a volume of memories and feelings, some explained and others merely invoked, pertaining to a life outdoors, away from the urban (and urbane, very often). It's simple, straightforward reading, perhaps best enjoyed in small sips rather than gulping swallows, much like camp coffee. The chapter illustrations by Glenn Wolff are on the whole nicely rendered and at times atmospheric, although he is clearly more accomplished when not sketching people.
In all this is an odd but worthwhile book, definitely more enjoyable to someone who has spent some time in the wilds, though.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good Read, Not Memorable July 12 2001
I read this book quickly while commuting to and from work. I've taken several canoe trips in my life, some even in canvas and wood canoes. Dennis is an insightful and amusing author, but now, several weeks later, I cannot recall a single passage or essay from this book. As I said at the outset, it makes for good commuter reading.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Sinking Wooden Canoe June 3 2001
By A Customer
The publisher takes a political liberty of reader consent to print this book without reviewing the "knee deep only" dimensions of the topics, the slight current reader interests or timeliness to the year 2001. Many of the articles, short and newsy as they might have once been, provide only brief historical interest to a small population of readers who might once have read the articles in a northern, small town, paper. Sorry. I was thoroughly dissappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wood is Good May 15 1999
By A Customer
A classic, said Mark Twain, is a book which people praise but don't read. If Twain was right, the latest collection of essays by Michigan's talented Jerry Dennis will never be a classic, and we should hope not. This book will be read, again and again, by anyone who covets the aroma of tent canvas, the fit of elkskin moccasins, or the crisp solitude of an October morning on a remote northern lake or stream. Jerry's new book contains 31 sparkling essays on the merits of everything from iron skillets to Union Suits, from finely honed wooden paddles to the best wood for a campfire. Reflecting on years of gentle meandering, Jerry lovingly explains how tradition and quality dovetail to make outdoor pursuits more comfortable, and more comforting to the soul. There's a yearning in these descriptive passages, a questing spirit that sings, "There's still an hour 'til dark; let's paddle the north fork to see what we find." And you do, because for Jerry and his readers, adventure invariably lies around the next bend. "From a Wooden Canoe" is superbly illustrated by Glenn Wolff. The book makes me glad there's wild country to explore and perceptive, contemplative writers like Jerry Dennis to stir the campfires of my heart.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual feat and fine read May 13 1999
By A Customer
Jerry Dennis has accomplished a most unusual feat with his "FROM A WOODEN CANOE, Reflections on Canoeing, Camping and Classic Equipment." Dennis explores and illustrates the "why-to" of doing very many things outdoors. When it comes to feeding the soul that loves the natural world, Dennis belongs in the same category of Jim Harrison or Thomas McGuane. Turn the pages of From a Wooden Canoe and you hear campfires crackle, smell the aroma of hot, black coffee and feel the wind that makes you pull up the collar of your heavy wool coat. The writing has a way of infusing the outdoor experience complete with clear blue skies or gray scudding clouds right to the heart of anyone who enjoys being outside. This collection of essays, largely expanded columns that first appeared in Canoe and Kayak Magazine is truly a fine read.
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