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Atchafalaya Houseboat: My Years in the Louisiana Swamp Hardcover – April 24, 2006
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About the Author
Gwen Roland, former editor for the Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, continues to write about agriculture and self-sufficient lifestyles from her homestead in Georgia.
Top Customer Reviews
But that said, I was a little disappointed in the book, not for what was in it, but for how much more she could have told us. The author has had a rare experience -- who else do you know who has lived on a houseboat in a swamp, without electricity or most modern conveniences, for a decade? Yet I was left feeling that she only related the bare minimum about her years in the swamp. Part of the problem is that the first half of the book appears to contain only her previously-published articles about her life at that time from a small regional magazine, and they are short and lacking a lot of detail. I'm left thinking how much better this book could have been if she had gone back and fleshed those out, adding more information and context. She doesn't discuss how it felt to adjust to such a rustic life, her relationship with the man she shared this life with, or any problems that they encountered, other than their dislike of returning to civilization for supplies every so often. In other words, she doesn't inject much of herself into her descriptions -- her feelings, her hopes or fears.
The second part of the book talks about temporarily working as a cook on a river boat, meeting the man she would later leave Calvin for, and her life since she left the swamp. In many ways, this is the more descriptive part of the book, especially as she details honestly the boredom of riverboat life and the pain of falling in love with another man. I was left imagining what could have been if she had applied the same descriptive style and writing technique to the earlier part of her work.Read more ›
Roland's quiet wisdom and eloquent descriptions of swamp life and everyday routines captured my imagination. Living off the land with no running water or electricity she learned how to drive a boat and how to set nets for catfish. She said, "I became acquainted with my body. Awakened from sanitary air-conditioning hibernation to the trickle of sweat down my arms, the green fragrance of crushed cypress pine needles, and the sensuous luxury of a bath with Ivory Soap in the bayou at sunset."
Roland became absorbed in mastering the not-so-simple skills of the simple life. She said, "I tried my hand at cutting wood, canning vegetables, preparing a smokehouse and making a quilt. Every day there was something new I wanted to learn." Although the days were filled with fishing, cooking, canning, growing food, making wine, tending chickens and trading there were many unexpected pleasures. She writes, "We stand on the porch to watch the last of the sunset. There's not another human being for miles in any direction. The water is perfect in its stillness. A lone owl hoots softly in a nearby tree, shy in front of people who share his woods tonight."
To meet expenses Roland worked as a cook on a river boat for 30 days on two occasions. She later left Voisin and married Preston Roland one of the riverboat engineers. In time Voisin married, had a daughter, and eventually divorced.Read more ›
I highly recommend this book to anyone with a interest in the culture of the Louisiana swamp.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was expecting more on the swamp and reptile life. My mistake.Published 3 months ago by gerry brockmann
A great vignette into a way of life that has all but disappeared. Where the rhythms of life aren't determined by the clock, but by the weather, & the seasons, Living off the land... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Judy
This book is about a couple of young people who decide to go into the swamp in the 1970s to try to re-create the lifestyle of their grandparents in the Atchafalaya Swamp of... Read morePublished 4 months ago by D. E. W. Turner
Beautifully written-paradise/relationship found and lost-could not hold back my tears.
I would love to have the adventure those two people had. Wonderful pictures.Published 13 months ago by Rivergal