210 Western American Literature Summer 2010 cades' rural, conservative east side to the urban, liberal west slope. He interviews ranchers and environmentalists, barge workers and biologists, to give us a living picture of the fish and the river that symbolize alternative visions of the same country. The kayaker is, you see, alone, but not in the sense of solitary, for this voyage is more like Thoreau in the woods of Concord, with many visitors and many welcome interruptions amidst the stream of natural stimulations that shape his thoughts. In conclusion, a simple story of river exploration is impossible in the modern West, and this paddling tale is appropriately attentive to land use, wildlife biology, water politics, and conflicting views of nature. Ultimately, this is a story of loss, where industrial culture has destroyed the miraculous life-surge of salmon voyaging from ocean currents to pebbled streams in the shadow of the mountains. Instead, we have rivers managed as machines, and the best-intentioned simulacra of salmon smolt trucked around dams, and hatcheries funded by power companies. Barenti paddles real rivers, but each day seems finally to remind him of the vanished wildness we've betrayed for the superficial comfort of managed
Western American Literature – The Western Literature Association
Published: Aug 13, 2010
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