Otherwise is Farley Mowat's memoirs of his life between the years 1937 and 1948. The opening pages quickly get us to his teen year's and his last year of living in Saskatchewan where he became a friend for life of the Others (the wildlife). Farley's family moves frequently but he always manages to find local wildlife whether they be living in small rooms or on a boat. Farley, along with his pals, volunteer and join the service where he was to spend the days of World War II fighting mostly in Italy. Finally after the War he comes home, marries, but is unable to settle down to 'post-war' life and he goes on ventures for the scientific community back to Saskatchewan and finally up to the northernmost parts of Canada where he spends time with the in-land Inuit.
The time frame this book covers parts of his life that are written in more detail in such books as And No Birds Sang and The Dog Who Wouldn't Be. While those books are about certain experiences in his life, this book is about him directly and the defining years of his life, the years that made him the man that he came be. Beautifully written, compelling reading, humorous and touching at times Mowat knows how to write and fans of the author will not be disappointed with his latest foray. While not exactly a page-turner, it is the type of book that is hard to put down and I often picked it up to read over my current fiction book before turning the lights out at night. An all-round enjoyable read with fascinating information about Saskatchewan wild-life, scientific procedures of the thirties and forties, Canadian army life and the Inuit. This would also be the perfect book to read for those who have never had the pleasure of reading Farley Mowat.
on October 8, 2011
"Otherwise" is part one of Farley Mowat's two part autobiography; a sort of farewell to his faithful readers of the last 60 years. I loved his children's fiction when I was growing up, and it was very neat to see in this book his real-world inspiration for the events and places in "Lost in the Barrens". Since much of Mowat's work has been of an autobiographical nature, "Otherwise" covers ground... that has also been covered in previous books I have read, including "And No Birds Sang" and "Never Cry Wolf". What was very disturbing were the gross inconsistencies between "Otherwise" and previous books, in particular "Never Cry Wolf". If the stories in "Otherwise" are accurate, it becomes clear that most of "Never Cry Wolf" (which was marketed as non-fiction) was either badly distorted or made up entirely. Towards the end of "Otherwise" he alludes several times to his increasing belief that facts are not a reliable way to find truth. This is disturbing and makes all of his writing suspect.