Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Book Review: _Dove_ by Robin Lee Graham

If Thoreau had lived during the 20th century, filled with materialism and media, I doubt he would have lived near Walden for any appreciable amount of time before going crazy, or having some developer come and tear down all the trees. In these days, he would have had to migrate north to Canada, or become next door neighbors with the militia groups in Montana.

Robin Lee Graham, in 1965, decided to sail around the world, in a sailboat, with little money, and with the rebellious attitude that prevaled in these times. And Dove, the name of the ship, is the book about those adventures. I picked this book up long ago, seeing in it some Thoreauesque themes in it, a Romantic look at the world aboard a boat. I bought it several years ago, but only read it recently.

The metaphor for life running throughout the book is obvious. It's a great book for giving to graduates, who should be tired of Dr. Seuss by now. The book also makes a great argument against the current education system in America (which would also have made Thoreau nauseated). As a teacher, I found several students with great intelligence, but only in the Tactile areas. They had to have motion, do things with their hands. They were great artists, and will become mechanics or some such. But the school system has failed them, requiring them only to sit, read, write, and regurgitate material ad infinitium. To sail around the world, to experience the life of a traveler, the depths of loneliness, the joys of gratitude and the simplistic things of life. It would be the most idyllic existence, and no one could ask for anything else. Students should be interacting with their world, not programmed by books and teachers with facts and figures.

The one thing that Graham talks about most of all, and what I found most enduring, was the feelings of loneliness, especially after finding the love of his life. It mirrors the depths of a hollow heart, after a love has gone. Simple writing style, honest, pure. It seemed only at the end, when trying to convince us all of the harm we are doing to the environment does the writing get complex, and more tedious. I wonder if the co-writer didn't do more of that part. There is a follow up book, Home is the Sailor, which was made, but I've never seen it myself. But I'm sure it's available online."

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