Back to work … and in praise of Jonathan Raban

 A surprisingly busy term over. Almost. So, inter alia, I can at last get back to writing my ordinals book and to blogging about Alan Weir’s book Truth Through Proof. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, I’ve just finished (re)reading Jonathan Raban’s quite wonderful Passage to Juneau. If you don’t know Raban, you are missing surely one of the very finest living writers of non-fiction prose in English. This is his 1999 book, notionally about sailing his 35ft ketch up the Inside Passage, from his home in Seattle to Juneau in Alaska. But like all good travel books, it is about much more — the voyage of Captain Vancouver that he is retracing, about the original Indian inhabitants and their relationship to the sea, about the idea of the sublime, about the death of his father, about his feelings for his young daughter, about other escapees he encounters at the edge of the world, and much much more. And as ever ”journeys hardly ever disclose their true meaning until after — and sometimes years after — they are over”. His earlier book Old Glory about a journey by boat down the Mississippi was very fine: but Passage to Juneau is his masterpiece. Read it.

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