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NORTHERN MAN: THE VICTOR

Jim Martin.

Surrey (BC), Hancock House, c1983.
255pp, paper, $11.95.
ISBN 0-88839-979-0.


Grades 9 and up.
Reviewed by Robin Lewis.

Volume 12 Number 2
1984 March


What man has not longed to present his lady-love with a beautiful fur coat? Such tender feelings encourage tough trappers to endure -60F temperatures and to stop the hearts of tiny animals. The contradictions of trapping are worth thought. How does the trapper himself rationalize killing? Is it worse for the furry little animal to die or the bearded trapper? And how does the isolated trapper obtain the conventional conjugal lifestyle other men take for granted?

Martin's story is candid and almost painful. He takes us from an early youthful enthusiasm, when he glories in his strength and skill, to a mature despair, when he sickens of his vocation and realizes he is trained for nothing else.

Martin loves the North but is less likely than others to eulogize it. He is aware of his social ineptitude, and does not hide it from his readers. These things earn our interest and empathy.

The book is attractively illustrated with un-attributed sketches and about twenty photographs. The map highlights the general locale, Lake Athabaska, but does not show all the remote places mentioned. The editor has deliberately retained some of Martin's colloquialisms and has let slip a number of typographical errors. But she has helped the author provide the general reader with a sensitive account of his life in the bush, and near Uranium City during the boom years.

Martin's subtitle is puzzling. He states that the trapper himself becomes trapped by the North. How then, is he "The Victor"? By surviving? By escaping to the South? Readers must decide this for themselves.


Robin Lewis, Riverdale H. S., Pierrefonds, QB.
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