Not long ago, I was talking with a friend of mine. It turns out he knew Denis Dauphinee, an author I’d recently interviewed.
“He’s great. He is the real, live ‘Most Interesting Man in the World,’” my friend told me.
Can’t say that I disagree.
Dauphinee, who goes by “D,” has worked as a farmer, a photographer, a mountain climbing guide, a fishing guide and an orthopaedic physician’s assistant. He was a semi-pro football player in Vancouver, trying to catch on in the Canadian Football League. He has parlayed his photographic skills into global adventures that have taken him to El Salvador, Peru, the Arctic, Israel, Egypt and across Europe.
He also grows killer Russian red garlic.
And, luckily for us, he writes. Correction: He writes well.
Over the past two years North Country Press has released two Dauphinee books.
The first, “Stoneflies & Turtleheads,” is a collection of hard-earned essays that cover some of his adventures. The second, which hit bookstores just a few weeks ago, is a novel called “The River Home.”
Both are worth a look, for different reasons.
In “Stoneflies & Turtleheads,” Dauphinee takes readers along on a life full of epic trips. Heck, even his first journeys, from his Bangor home to not-too-distant fishing holes in Hermon, sound epic when Dauphinee describes them. And those first trips paved the way to the life he has led.
“I’m not the brightest guy in the world, so I had this really warped sense of adventure,” Dauphinee said. “I wanted to test myself physically and mentally in unknown places.”
Those initial forays into the wilderness, first with his dad, then on his own, helped mold the man he became.
“I remember being 9 or 10 years old, and with buddies who were like-minded, we’d get on our banana bikes and we’d tie fishing rods to them and backpacks,” Dauphinee said.
And off they’d go. Alone. Into the woods, to fish.
“We were starting fires along the railroad tracks and trying to stomp ‘em out,” Dauphinee said with a laugh. “You couldn’t dream of that now. Three kids, 9 or 10 years old, gone for a whole weekend? Nobody would do that now.”
“Stoneflies & Turtleheads” documents some of his trips during a period in which Dauphinee scrimped, saved and plotted ways to see new places and experience new things.
And along the way, he learned new skills in unorthodox ways.
“I was guiding in Jackson Hole [Wyo.] when I was young. It was funny. I started out with one of the local climbing outfits out there. I just wanted to get involved and learn more about climbing, so I volunteered to drive the shuttle bus and make the sandwiches,” Dauphinee said. “All of a sudden one guy breaks his leg and another guy’s mother gets ill in another state and the next thing you know, I’m guiding.”
In “The River Home,” readers will find a well-crafted novel that uses fly fishing as a device to tell a much more important tale.
“There’s a little bit of heavy fly-fishing stuff in the very beginning that you’ve got to wade through, but it sets the tone for a relationship that’s important throughout the book,” Dauphinee explained. “Then it’s unspeakable tragedy, triumph over adversity and handicap, sex, love … a little of everything.”
Dauphinee said the entire story that he tells in “The River Home” came to him one night as he lay in bed, half-asleep.
When his restlessness woke his wife, she told him he ought to write down what he’d been thinking. He did, and when he looked at the results the next morning Dauphinee found that he’d written 25 pages that served as the outline for the book.
“I’m sure it happens to people, but I’d never even heard of it,” Dauphinee said of the late-night eureka moment.
Dauphinee is working on a second set of essays that he’ll call “Something’s Wrong With My Fly,” and also plans an ambitious project that will document an important piece of Canadian history.
And he figures all of it started when he started walking and riding his bike along railroad tracks heading out of Bangor, looking for places to explore.
“Those railroad tracks,” he said. “They were calling.” Warden to sign book
Several months ago I received a review copy of a book called “Maine Wild, Adventures of Fish and Game Wardens,” which was written by Megan Price.
Price, a Vermont writer, has produced a series of “Vermont Wild” books. Her latest work focuses on the tales of Parker Tripp, former chief warden of the Maine Warden Service.
The tales are short and humorous, and as we’ve learned from other wardens-turned-authors, Maine’s game wardens find themselves in a pretty wide variety of situations.
Brad Ryder of Epic Sports in Bangor emailed me earlier this week with some news that might be of interest to outdoorsy holiday shoppers.
It seems that Epic Sports has been selling lots of “Maine Wild” books lately.
And on Saturday, Tripp will be on hand to sign copies from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
If you’ve got any eager readers, young or old, on your list, this might be just the thing for them.
Follow John Holyoke on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke