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On Whale Island: Notes from a Place I Never Meant to Leaveby Daniel Hays
Synopses & Reviews
After Daniel Hays and his father built a twenty-five-foot boat and sailed it around Cape Horn, he thought he'd finally put his wanderlust to rest. He went back to school, bought a house, took a job, got married.
But as it turned out, in the real world Daniel Hays felt lost. So he took his love for the sea and his need to escape civilization and pushed it further: he bought an island off the coast of Nova Scotia; built a tiny house; packed up his wife and stepson, two dogs, and three boatloads of supplies; and moved there.
This is the story of fulfilling a fantasy: to live by your own rules and your own wits. And Daniel Hays, as readers of My Old Man and the Sea will remember, is well equipped to do both. He generates electricity from solar power and a terrifying windmill, funnels rainwater for their showers, creates a toilet seat out of a whale vertebra, strings their bed up on pulleys so that by day it can be lifted out of the way. For him, every morning is a wonder and every storm a blood-coursing thrill.
But while Daniel loves this permanent boy's life, his wife longs for the life they left behind, and his spirited stepson is feeling isolated. Soon, their Swiss Family Robinson existence becomes a vision only Daniel can see.
Funny, tender, and fascinating, filled with the details of an unconventional life, this is the story of how the Hays family lived on Whale Island, and how, finally, they had to leave.
"Mostly his denunciations, as of TV, are trite; more on point for readers is Hays' chronicle of island life...and its rewards....An idiosyncratic record of family dynamics intensified by isolation and dominated by the stepson-stepfather angle." Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
"The text...is as self-conscious as the move itself, comprising Hays's condescending accounts....[Hays] casts himself so enthusiastically as the wronged Woody Allen or John Kennedy Toole hero, he seems a self-perpetuating stereotype." Publishers Weekly
"Narrated through diary entries, the book highlights what was only glimpsed at [in My Old Man and the Sea] — Hays is a kook....For all the ego and insecurity on display, there's a fair amount of tension. One worries whether his seat-of-the-pants attitude might lead him to bring harm to his family." Erica Sanders, The New York Times Book Review
"A fleshed-out diary...[that] isn't always totally engaging....Much of the material, though nicely shaped, is simply a recounting of activities....A taste of living theater, with all its entanglements, fragments, and doldrums." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Daniel Hays is the coauthor of the bestseller My Old Man and the Sea. He has worked as a field supervisor at a therapeutic wilderness program for troubled teenagers, holds a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, has a master?s degree in environmental science, and has a captain?s license for boats rated up to twenty-five tons. He and his father were the first Americans to sail around Cape Horn in a boat under thirty feet in length.
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