The Iambics of Newfoundland: Notes from an Unknown Shore
, 2007 - Nature
- 270 pages
After spending the greater part of a decade traveling around the Island of Newfoundland, at "the edge of North America," nature writer and host of an NPR radio series Robert Finch chronicles the people, geography, and wildlife of this remote and lovely place in The Iambics of Newfoundland. From the shear cliffs of Cape Spear overlooking the Atlantic, the beaches of Sandy Cove (about eight miles by road from Squid Tickle), the steep streets of St. John's, and the moss-covered tundra of the southern coast, Finch carefully collects the intimate stories of birds and moose and foxes - and the people who share their space. He evokes an untrammeled landscape of raw beauty even as he tells a tale of economic hardship, with the local cod fisheries depleted and very little industry to replace it.
Initially an outsider from the "Boston States," Finch finds himself increasingly at home in these environs. Whether lodging in a hunting cabin that doesn't quite exist, or chronicling the increase in traffic accidents along the Trans-Canada highway caused by road signage meant to decrease the number of traffic accidents, Finch captures the idiosyncrasies of Newfoundland and generously harnesses the resourceful, pragmatic wit of its inhabitants.
Finch's ear is finely attuned to the vernacular of Newfoundlanders' stories; he revels in the particular cadences and unexpected movement of their tales. With a boundless curiosity, a profound appreciation for the beauty of everyday life and prose as hospitable and full of good humor as the people he encounters, Finch brings alive a wide array of characters - fishermen, hunters and hitchhikers, newcomers and old timers - and an island tucked between provinces, languages, and cultures, a land of ancient hardship and stirring beauty.