Arundel Gets Promoted

When I pick a book for the sauna, it has to be a durable, inexpensive edition. My latest one is a rare 41st edition copy of Kenneth Roberts’ Arundel from the Rundlett Library, wherever that is, so it has a nice durable cellophane cover. Roberts works were hugely successful all over the world and you can find copies all over the place.

I read Rabble in Arms, about the American Revolution, many years ago, and I enjoyed it so much I decided to read the ‘prequel’ Arundel, but never got around to it, but at last I found a copy and tucked in in my gym bag.

But I have to say this book is entirely unsatisfactory as a sauna book. I get so engrossed in it that I’m always at risk of shriveling up into a prune. Then I go and sit down in the locker room and read it while I cool off, and I get engrossed again and get too cold and run the risk of catching my death… I’m promoting it to nightime reading.

Roberts research is incredibly thorough, and he’s writing about Maine, where he grew up. His ancestors fought in the military campaigns he writes about. He also has a gift for bringing the story to life.

He presents the beauty and harmony of the Abenaki way of life and the honesty and morality of the Abenaki people and their cruel betrayal by the English colonists…

You know the story. But this was back in 1929 before multicultural sensitivity was even invented.

Plus there are lots of handy household tips:
“Hobonok instructed me in the making of fire pouches, which is done by cutting a slit in the back of a woodchuck’s neck and drawing the body through the slit, so the skin is left whole. Then the skin is turned back from the skull, the skull is skinned and scraped and pushed again into the skin.

“Thus the head becomes a knob; and when the knob is tucked under the belt, the pouch is supported by it and never falls. The fire itself is contained in two large clam-shells, lined with clay, a small hole being left for escaping smoke.

“Between the the shells is packed rotted yellow birch, which holds fire for a day; and by this means fire is carried safely through the heaviest rains.”

My new sauna book is The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler: less engrossing, better in small doses. Good though. Everything you might want to know about alcohol and writing and wealth.