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Memoir Review    

 

 

How to Build a Tin Canoe: Confessions of an Old Salt
by Robb White
Hyperion, 2003
Hardcover, $23.95 ( 228 pages)
ISBN: 1-4013-0027-8
 
  Robb White has some excellent writing genes. His father, Robb White III, was the author of numerous juvenile books, a regular contributor to Boy's Life and other publications. His sister, Bailey White, is a Southern humorist and former NPR contributor. So, when a literary agent read a story by Robb White in Wooden Boats while sitting in his dentist's waiting room, he knew he had a storyteller. He contacted Robb White at his boatbuilding shop, and Robb packed up a large box of stories for him to read.

How to Build a Tin Canoe: Confessions of an Old Salt may become a sleeper hit. The title and cover don't seem to grab the memoir readers; however, the life stories inside are down home knee-slappers. The White home inspired free spirits, imagination and adventure. From an early age, the White children, cousins and neighbors would go out into the water or explore the Gulf islands and sandbars. It was not uncommon for the ones under age four to lose their bottoms and ran naked with the gang. These toddler nudists were also strong as some grown men when pulling nets full of fish or shrimp.

Bailey White's girl friend is often referred to in these memories, as "the girl I would marry." Their story goes from their childhood adventures to his Navy years to building their boat business and family. Jane White proves to be his equal in adventure and a great first mate.

How to Build a Tin Canoe is an interesting look at handmade boats, life in Thomasville, Georgia, and Dog Island, Florida. The memories are full of heart and laughter.

 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

 

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