Inside Passage

Modzelewski, Michael. Inside Passage: Living with Killer Whales, Bald Eagles, and Kwakiutl Indians. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to live on an island” (prelude to Inside Passage, p xi). This is how Modzelewski starts his book. Kismet. How Michael Modzelewski ends up living on an island is one of those right place-right time kind of deals. While in a relationship he knew wouldn’t work out he met a man who lived on a deserted island in the Inside Passage. For those not in the know, the Island Passage is the waterway from Seattle, Washington to Alaska. The rest is history. Modzelewski lives with his new friend, Will Malloff, for three weeks before being left alone in the northern wilderness. He soaks up every opportunity to learn that he can. From fishing with Kwakiutl Indians and trying to save a wounded eagle to diving with killer whales and cooking a Thanksgiving dinner in a wood burning cook stove. Modzelewski seizes every moment to make an adventure. The one problem with Inside Passage? It’s too short. I can overlook the fact he didn’t include photographs if he had just written a few hundred more pages! Inside Passage is a short 184 pages with acknowledgments.

Great quotes, “I soon learned that some people appear in our lives briefly to connect us to other people or events that carry a lasting impact” (p xv), and”Human beings fail to realize that in destroying other forms of life, we shrink our own range of possibilities” (p 117). Two more about the ocean, “The ultimate design is when there is nothing left to take away” and “In the sea I found my sky” (both on page 164).

As an aside, when you listen to Natalie Merchant give interviews she is always crediting a book, documentary, news article or museum show for her musical inspiration. Modzelewski is no different. He credits the movie Jeremiah Johnson as his turning point.

Reason read: June is the best time to visit British Columbia, according to a few travel sites.

Author fact: Modzelewski has written for Sports Illustrated and Outside magazine, but Inside Passage is his first book.

Book trivia: I am always disappointed when pictures aren’t included. I mean, come on! Check out the title to this book! I want to see killer whales, bald eagles and even a Kwakiutl Indian!

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Living High in Cascadia” (p 150).

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