Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Daring Deed

I have several books in progress now; it's very hard for me to stick with only one unless it really fascinates me. Usually, I can't understand this fascination. However, in my life of reading I have come to one realization: I am fascinated by books that allow glimpses into little-known subcultures. Such as the subculture of fire-jumpers (Young Men and Fire), the subculture of map collectors (The Island of Lost Maps), or--currently--the subculture of Mississippi steamboat pilots. A particular subculture that no longer exists, and hasn't for many decades. I've begun reading Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi and I'm finding it quite fascinating. I would suggest, for a taste, that you read chapter 8: A Daring Deed.
Now the engines were stopped altogether, and we drifted with the current. Not that I could see the boat drift, for I could not, the stars being all gone by this time. This drifting was the dismalest work; it held one's heart still. Presently I discovered a blacker gloom than that which surrounded us. It was the head of the island. We were closing right down upon it. We entered its deeper shadow, and so imminent seemed the peril that I was likely to suffocate; and I had the strongest impulse to do SOMETHING, anything, to save the vessel. But still Mr. Bixby stood by his wheel, silent, intent as a cat, and all the pilots stood shoulder to shoulder at his back.

'She'll not make it!' somebody whispered.
If you are of the inclination, you can follow that link above and read the entire book online. Personally, I have not yet developed a taste for reading books from a computer screen.

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