Memoirs of a Farm Boy
Chesapeake Boyhood is an account of growing up on the lower Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake during the years following the Great Depression. Turner's stories include rousing tales of 'coon hunting, crabbing, boat building, duck hunting, oyster tonging, and Saturday jaunts to town. Turner brings the characters, experiences, waterscape, and landscape of rural Virginia to life as no one has done before or is likely ever to do again. His own drawings illustrate the stories, and they, too, win us over with their honesty and charm.
About the Author
William H. Turner is an internationally renowned sculptor. Born in 1935 in Northampton County on Virginia's Eastern Shore, he graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in anthropology in 1957 and from the Medical College of Virginia dental school in 1969. During the 1960s, his interest in painting and sculpture gradually led to his becoming a full-time sculptor. He lives on the shores of the Chesapeake and has a studio on Route 13 near Onley, Virginia.
Whether you're a farmer, hunter, fisherman, environmentalist, or one who can take or leave nature, passages in Turner's book will make you smile, laugh, and want to cry... Episodes of his boyhood will remind you of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. His book is worthy of a place on the shelf with them.
Storms, boat wrecks, childhood pranks and even old dogs are remembered with a sense of humor in Turner's book. He has captured the rhythms of country life in a time before fast cars, credit cards, and air pollution.
Its chief virtue (besides its highly literate style), it seems to me, is its intimate, sensory knowledge of a vanishing Chesapeake landscape: its sounds and smells, the way things feel to the touch, the lore lodged in the names of the commonest creatures and activities... At one point Turner likens the local farmers and fishermen sitting around the table in the country store to fixed positions on a compass, with 'all the cardinal points taken,' and I think of this [book] as a kind of compass too, that describes one man's orientation to the Eastern Shore.
Modern outdoor writing has enough anemic adventures by faint-hearted writers reared in the suburbs. What it needs more of is the droll wit of an Ed Zern, the robust foolishness of a Patrick McManus, and the lean prose of an Ernest Hemingway. It gets all three in the tales of Bill Turner.
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