To say that Another Way the River Has is a collection of essays inspired by the Pacific Northwest is both an overstatement and inadequate. The essays are inspired by the northwest corner of one Northwest state, Robin Cody’s Oregon, but they are broader in scope than their geographic setting.
Cody writes about gyppo loggers, boat builders, Coast Guard rescue crews, sheep farmers, rodeo cowboys, Indian fishermen, birders, and his own experiences as a coach, umpire, and school bus driver. The stories are fascinating in and of themselves. And Cody uses them to mull on larger topics, such as man’s impact on the natural world – and vice versa – and how people and nature adapt to life’s unfairness.
Many of the pieces were previously published in Northwest Magazine in The Sunday Oregonian and other regional publications, although several appear here for the first time.
Because they were written over a span of 25 years and for different audiences, the collection has a bit of a hodgepodge feel to it. It is easy to stumble over some of the transitions, such as the one between “Deaf Basketball,” a quirky story about refereeing a game for the Oregon State School for the Deaf, and “Hideaway Slough,” a mystically personal reflection on solitary boat camping in a sleepy Columbia River backwater. Perhaps the contrast is intentional, but it can be a little distracting.
Cody is probably best known for his popular coming-of-age novel, Ricochet River, and he won the Oregon Book Award for Voyage of a Summer Sun. The essays in Another Way the River Has further showcase Cody’s keen awareness of what makes his corner of Oregon endlessly fascinating.
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Published by OSU Press.