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Exploring by bush plane, boat and foot, Hoagland gives an account [of the interior wilds of British Columbia in "Notes from the Century Before"] at once blunt and rhapsodic of this demi-paradise and its self-exiled inhabitants. But now, a mere three years since the author's first journey, the last frontier, or last Eden, has practically disappeared under helicopters and neon.Hoagland's lyric account, therefore, becomes all the more eloquent, for it records not only a fading ideal but is, finally, a parable—and warning—for America.Citing an unwavering allegiance to what’s alive, Hoagland believes that “heaven is here and the only heaven we have.” The author is less concerned with his own demise than with the larger unraveling of the world, and these glimmering essays avoid nostalgia or self-pity by focusing on his various entanglements, with past lovers and wives, Tibetan yak herders, a Ugandan family and the circus aerialists with whom he worked 60 years ago.
His method results in essays which are individualistic, loosely structured, and which move easily from one subject to another, often within a single paragraph.
Some critics find Hoagland's technique distracting, while others contend that his digressions add relevance and variety to his objective observations. His keen eye for details, his ability to convey a precise sense of place, and his enthusiasm for all that he encounters are revealed in his dramatic metaphors and creative phrasing.
The more Ben's following increases, the more author Hoagland gets caught up in the whirling dervish of his own prose.
Finally Ben becomes a real Pied Piper to his nimble mouse pack….
"Cat Man" is a chronicle of the circus laborers, told with the same microscopic detail that Melville lavished on whaling.
Structurally it is hardly a novel; it is a minute dissection of the circus' sinews.Although his subjects vary widely, many critics believe that Hoagland writes best about animals.Whether discussing caged circus animals, as in his first novel, Cat Man (1956), wild creatures from the backlands of British Columbia, as in Notes from the Century Before (1969), trivia about turtles, as in an essay from the collection The Courage of Turtles (1970), or superstition and lore about bears and wolves, as in Red Wolves and Black Bears (1976), Hoagland deftly combines realism and romanticism in his compassionate and detailed descriptions. ed.; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 6.) A circus contains three worlds—the bosses, the performers and the laborers.It is an account of one stand of the big show in Council Bluffs, Iowa, from the first sight of the freight yards to a few minutes before "Doors" when the horde of townies surge in and the glittering pageant begins.Running counterpoint to this day are slices of other days in other towns, incidents of vio-lence, desperation or depravity which highlight the experience of the hero.series, "but at the core of the genre is an unmistakable receptivity to the ever-shifting processes of our minds and moods.He also made a point of selecting the best , as opposed to examples from the best essayists.His fellow-feeling mounts until he makes his big discovery about the kids, about things like prejudice and all: "For Ben their color was almost a negligible factor, in contrast to if he had been with their parents." Suffering spitballs, a sociological revelation!The really unfortunate thing about this book is that it is not a first novel.Yet the story of the shambling "winos" who hire on from town to town, who last a single jump or three or a month, only to drift away or be found dead behind the wagons, this could hardly be told by any other medium than fiction, which lets us feel the grime ground into the skin, the blood caked on the knuckles, lets us smell the reek of these "creatures that once were men."…The viewpoint is that of a hobo youth, nicknamed "Fiddle."…