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74 Western American Literature Broken Waters Sing. By Gaylord Staveley. (Boston: Little, Brown 8c Company in Association with Sports Illustrated Magazine, 1971. xvii + 283 pages, illus., and index. $6.95.) Gaylord Staveley is one of the few white water enthusiasts today who still navigates wooden boats rather than the rubber pontoons popularized since World War II. Consequently his account of his trip down the Green and Colorado Rivers in commemoration of Powell’s 1869 expedition would be appropriate. Hdwever, it is no surprise to the reader that other points of comparison between these two trips turn out to be mostly records of contrast. When Powell set his wooden boats in the Green’s waters, he embarked on what has been referred to as the Great Unknown: on the maps available at that time it was an unmarked expanse. All Powell knew were rumors where the river was lost under rocks for several hundred miles. Such rumors he regarded as unscientific and illogical. He did not know how far the rivers ran, what rapids lay where, or what peoples he would encounter. He did not know whether his boats would endure the perils of rock and water and how the crew would react in times of stress. Staveley’s voyage a century later followed the Great Known. Although the white expanse of paper had been filled in by brown contour lines, Staveley does point out that “It’s exciting, and usually disturbing, to study maps of a river canyon that you haven’t run before. But on a map nothing is real.” (p. 31) Running the river that the map charts is the real experience. The lure of white water has made river running quite common since Powell’s time, and on this particular commemorative trip Staveley found on occasion the river to be actually overcrowded! , Another point of contrast not to be disregarded is the variety of food­ stuffs. Staveley’s crew ate a bit better than Powell’s since at prearranged points the party interrupted their trip momentarily for reprovisioning as well as changing crew. Staveley’s menu ranged from fresh salads to steaks to canned cocktails. For Powell as early as in the Canyon of Lodore the rations had been soaked and were spoiling. But at least the three gallon keg of whiskey was retrieved from a wreck. But most important is the comparison between the living rivers Powell knew to the present day flow of cycled waste water controlled by urban electrical needs dictating the placement of dams and regulating the flow of water through them. Staveley points out that running “broken waters” is hazardous because the boat has to be at a point on the river at the right time of day in order to have a fair chance for safe running. Staveley stresses these two rivers are still challenging not despite one hundred years, but because of the “progress” made during that span of time. Perhaps the major strength of this book lies in the explanation of the physical and emotional effects that dammed water has on its river runners. Reviews 75 Another asset is Staveley’s account of the psychology of his crew. The best example of which is his humorous description of the “campsite game,” a daily ritual that probably hasn’t changed since Powell’s day when one of his crew members wrote on June 11 that if he had a dog that would lie where he camped that night, he would kill him, bum his collar, and swear he never owned him. Compare this with Staveley: “The object is for the Players to make Dealer [the expedition leader] think he was out of his head in picking a particular time to camp, or place to camp, or better yet both.” (p. Ill) Two major additions are essential to this book: comparative photographs and a more detailed map. The book needs more photographs taken at points established by Powell which would visually illustrate the differences between yesteryear’s living waters and Staveley’s song of “broken waters.” The sole photographic comparison found in the Table of Illustrations is listed incor­ rectly for no photographs were taken on the 1869 expedition. In the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 74-75
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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