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An Island Out of Time: A Memoir of Smith Island in the Chesapeake

Biography / Memoir

By: Tom Horton

Vintage Books

Paperback | Dec 1997 | #152403 | ISBN: 0393039382
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 week Details
NHBS Price: £16.99 $21/€20 approx

About this book

Well written memoir of a Shaker community.

From the publisher's announcement:

Smith Island is a marshy archipelago in mid-Chesapeake Bay, nine miles from the mainland, home to 500 watermen and their families. This book is a portrait of a people who have remained intimately connected to the place in which they live, far past the time when "place" and "nature" have immediate consequence to most of our lives.

Tom Horton lived for two years on Smith Island, recording through observation and interviews the traditions of oystering, crab catching, church going, hunting and poaching, and the social rituals of these fiercely independent men and women. His beautifully elegiac story is about community and isolation, harvest and exploitation, about the risks and charms of being different from the surrounding world.

The grassy shallows and the hidden bottoms of Smith Island, and of the Chesapeake, once supported a variety of waterfowl and marine life that astonished the early explorers. The decline of these natural wonders and the attempt to restore the health of Chesapeake Bay is one part of the story; the other is an effort to give voice to a distinctive people whose three centuries of working and being constitute an eloquent statement. A book reminiscent of William Warner's Beautiful Swimmers, by an author whose lyricism recalls the voice of Garrison Keillor.

Praise for Tom Horton's Bay Country, winner of the John Burroughs Medal for environmental literature: "[Readers] will be enchanted. . . . Mr. Horton displays a stunning command of language."-New York Times Book Review

Tom Horton, former environmental correspondent for the Baltimore Sun and senior writer for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, is a Sun columnist and freelance writer. He lives in Hebron, Maryland.


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