Under The Stars mini book tour of Southern California libraries, October 22-23

hi everyone. Thanks for checking in. First of all, I just wanted to let you all know that the Under The Stars book salon/dinner, hosted by Catamaran literary magazine (and the brilliant Catherine Segurson, who is captain of that particular ship) was a great success. I could not have hoped for more. It seemed like that event was about to crash into a barrier reef of Santa Cruz flakiness, but Laili Restaurant stepped in to save the day. We all talked and dined outside in the enclosed garden patio next to the restaurant. It was a great selection of people: a respected printer, a publisher, a legendary muffin baker, a writer and bookstore events coordinator, a photographer, a history teacher, a librarian, a newly arrived editor from New York City, and many others, some of them meeting for the first time, exchanging stories, talking long after dark. I even struck up an…

Just in time for Halloween: the story of Aleister Crowley and the dark magic of camping in America

     The strange power of camping is open to everyone. Perhaps this has something to do with removing the familiar and replacing it with rocks, fields, and streams. Recreating or rearranging elements of home life in an unfamiliar environment can have a profound and mysterious effect on our thinking processes. Such was the case for Aleister Crowley, the infamous British occultist, ceremonial magician, sexual libertine, writer and Ozzy Osbourne lyric inspiration who looked in later years like Uncle Fester from The Addams Family. Crowley was not a nice person. He once baptized a frog and named it Jesus Chris before crucifying it and eating its legs for dinner. He took part in orgies and wrote poems about necrophilia and bestiality, and once professed his desire to make love with a duck. Crowley, in other words, isn’t someone you’d ever want to bunk around with at a KOA Kamping Kabin….

Update for October: paperback news, literary salon, mini-tour of Southern California libraries

hi everyone. Thanks for a great summer for Under The Stars. The build-up to publication was very hard for me because of the loss of my father (he passed away just before the book went to print, after a long and heartbreaking illness and two hospitalizations) and also the sudden loss of Steve Watts, who I’ve gotten to know in the course of preparing the book. Steve had a tremendous amount of respect for Native American traditions, woodcraft camping technique, and recreational camping history going back to the early 19th century. Like my father, Steve got a hold of an early version of UTS and was very enthusiastic about it. I was looking forward to following up with him and checking in after the book came out. The last thing he ever said to me was “Some day by the campfire.” In honor of Steve, I’ve been signing a lot…

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…