Please take this creepy antique doll off my hands: updated and amended post!

.  Friends, remember when I posted about the beautifully designed but vaguely terrifying antique doll I bought at a yard sale for a pittance a few weeks back, an impulse buy I now regret? Well, I just want you all to know that I need — desperately — to get rid of this thing as soon as possible. I am looking for somebody — anybody — who might wish to ‘adopt’ it. The doll is 60 years old, a true antique in other words. But it has a couple of problems. For one thing, it is creepy to look at. For another, it had an unfortunate and persistent odor.  It’s kind of like a combination of stale garlic and low tide with strange fruity notes that make the acrid smell-profile seem even worse. But if an antique collector would like to take this off my hands, surely that person could give…

People really know how to camp in New Hampshire.

The people of New Hampshire sure have a lot of funny and hair-raising camping stories. This is not surprising, considering that the Granite State has so much camping history. When camping started to become a “thing” after the Civil War, the White Mountains were a prime destination for Romantic camping wayfarers, right up there with the Adirondacks of Upstate NY. Just the other day, I went on The Exchange on NHPR to talk about Under The Stars and that classic never-to-be-forgotten rule that applies to camping as well as every-day existence on Earth: “Bad for life. Good for story!” I did not make up that saying, but it sure is true. Here is the link to listen in on my camping talk on the Exchange. This was a lot of fun for me. By the way, this was pretty early for me — this is how my voice sounds when…

A brief update for August 20: more radio, California Academy of Sciences, Book Passage in Corte Madera, and beyond

Hello there, and good morning. For starters, I just want to say thank you for the messages you’ve sent to me via Twitter or Facebook or through this web site. I love hearing from readers, and I’m glad to hear that the book has been hiking its way toward some far-flung places. I’m starting to hear from readers overseas, and from readers who are beaming messages to me from places that I thought were truly off-the-grid. I guess nowhere is really off the grid anymore! Anyways, welcome back from your trip to Yosemite (or wherever you happened to camp over the past few days.) Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be going on the radio on Monday once again — this time for New Hampshire’s NPR, NHPR, to discuss my book, from 9 to 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Here is more information. So if you just so…

New York Times Book Review: Under The Stars is “a chatty and entertaining history of self-conscious American attempts to set off into the wild.”

    Here is my early August update, with news about book reviews, future speaking dates and more. This one goes out to my mother-in-law (who checks this page religiously) and anyone else who might be taking a peek at this. I wrote this book at my kitchen table in long writing sessions that began as early as 430 in the morning or even earlier (I tend to draw the line at 3 a.m. Too early for me.) I did all the pen-and-ink illustrations myself, using that same old kitchen table as my workspace.  The book feels very intimate and ‘local’ to me. It is gratifying, and a little overwhelming, to watch it make its way into the wider world.  Writing is my way of experiencing life in a more intense, ecstatic, soulful and scary way. It gives me license to do some off-limits things, whether I’m climbing a mountain…

Camping in the shade of my father

My father, Victor White, would have turned 90 tomorrow (July 13.) Before his health began to decline rapidly in late winter, the whole family was making plans for a rustic vacation out on Catalina Island to celebrate his big day. One of my camping heroes, Horace Kephart, wrote that he camped “in the shade of Nessmuk in the Happy Hunting Ground.” (Nessmuk was the pen name of the great outdoors writer and master-camper George Washington Sears, a great inspiration for Kephart.) In a similar sense, I am always camping in the shade of my father because he is the one who took me out into the wild country when I was a boy, and brought the family back to the High Sierra every year without fail from the year I entered kindergarten to the year I moved away. The Hudson Highlands were my father’s escape from his gritty neighborhood and impoverished…

Traveling for Under The Stars

hi everyone. My reading tour begins in just a few hours. Packing my electric toothbrush and getting ready to hit the road. I thought about camping my way from bookstore to bookstore, but couldn’t get my act together on time to make that happen so I will be sleeping indoors (though I’ve got a cabin or two on the itinerary, in rustic surroundings, so there will be a certain roofless quality to the sleep-over, even though I’ll have a roof.) Tonight: Haight Ashbury’s famous Booksmith in San Francisco. I hung out here all the time while living in the Haight for three years. In fact, I once did a live interview with Andrew Sean Greer at this bookstore, so this is a kind of homecoming. The fun begins at 730 tonight (Tuesday, July 12.) Refreshments served.   Then the schedule continues as follows: Thursday, July 14 9 a.m.,live television interview, KATU…

Remembering Grandma Gatewood: hero of camping

Dear camping friends: my book, Under The Stars, combines my own experiences in the wild with the history of outdoor recreation and the stories of the men and women who made their way into the forests of America seeking happiness and renewal.  I had to make some draconian decisions about who to include and exclude from the final line-up of “heroes of camping” in this book. I simply could not find space for all the stories I wanted to incorporate — including this tale of a fearless grandmother who conquered a long-distance footpath without any fancy gear, and with no preparation whatsoever. If you are ever tempted to go on a long camping trip, but worry that you can’t afford a carload of fancy new equipment, consider the story of Emma “Grandma” Gatewood, who hiked every inch of the Appalachian Trail for a grand total of a hundred dollars and with no…

Under The Stars in the Wall Street Journal

Under The Stars has made two appearances in one week in the Wall Street Journal. Today, the WSJ posted my history piece about camping, and last week, the newspaper ran a review of Under The Stars. I have read the WSJ all of my adult life, and have never appeared in the newspaper in any context until next week, so these are unusual circumstances. I love the layout of the history piece and the use of archival photos. (I also loved the image of s’mores that they used to accompany the book review.) Happy camping, everyone. See you up in the Pacific Northwest.