Alan Rafferty

Of All the Gin Joints in All the World

Rowing to Alaska and Other True Stories

By

Granta Books 239pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

The story of Wayne McLennan’s primitive voyage to America’s most northerly state begins, as do most of the stories in this fascinating book, in a bar. An elderly drifter tells him, and anyone else prepared to listen, about the Alaskan gold rush, and about how the poorest prospectors were forced to make the journey from Washington State up the coast to Skagway, from where they could gain access to the gold fields, by rowing, because they couldn’t afford passage on a sailboat. The unspeakably arduous trip takes two and a half months. McLennan and his friend Doug make up their minds instantly. They move to Seattle, endure the very worst jobs available to gather funds, and commission a shortsighted old man to hand-build them a 22-foot ‘Grand Banks dory’ – a rowboat they will soon call home.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The breadth of Clarke’s knowledge and experience, coupled to a conspicuous absence of pomposity, makes for easy an… ,
    • In this month's Silenced Voices, Lucy Popescu shines a light on Myanmar's persecution of writers and journalists, p… ,
    • Lecture on war and peace in 19th-century Europe by Professor Sir Richard Evans, Thurs 25 Oct, 6.30pm Europe House… ,
    • 'Why, throughout the world, are so many people fascinated by the fiction and reality of espionage? And why of all p… ,
    • . here on books, Muriel Spark and life's tangled dance ,
    • RT : There aren't enough aggressive subtitles these days: ,
    • Churchill's on the cover of the October edition of the magazine. Piers Brendon reviews two new books about the Brit… ,