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Man Bites Log: The Unlikely Adventures of a City Guy in the Woods    by Max Alexander order for
Man Bites Log
by Max Alexander
Order:  USA  Can
Carroll & Graf, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Journalist Max Alexander moved with his family (teacher Sarah, and children) from big city life to settle in New England, specifically on a farmhouse property in Camden, Maine. In Man Bites Log, Alexander expounds (from five-years of journal entries) on his life in rural America. He relates that 'When rural Mainers detect a difference between what you say and what you do, they detect someone from the city.' Why farming? Alexander tells it this way: 'it gives me something to do instead of write ... Like fields, pages must sometimes lay fallow'. Alexander leads a dual life as a blue-collar worker and a white-collar worker - farming and writing. Therefore, he occasionally travels back to the big cities on assignments for varied media, and mentions incidents with celebrities.

Alexander apprises readers of some of his favorite townsfolk -- Elmer whose shop sign reads, 'All Prices Subject To Customer Attitude', and Ken, who extolls 'the virtues of The Good Old Days When Stuff Was Made Right'. The author is not short of subject matter as he writes about tourists, ongoing property renovations, tending the soil and crops - which include vegetables and fields of blueberries. There's the task of tapping maple trees in the Spring, raising guinea hens (a.k.a. 'keets') for the purpose of eating destructive beetles (but they end up eating the grapes instead), his attendance at town meetings, and running for Selectman. Added are tidbits of knowledge here and there - did you know that a moose will not survive in captivity? And how many of us have had the pleasure of pleasing the palate with delicious 'fried dough' at a country fair (yum)!

Alexander's writing is colorful, at times political, yet he has a homespun way of communicating. Occasionally he hits sarcastic tones, as when describing heifer competitions at a fair. There are many points to be made, such as the difference between a 'flatlander' and a 'Mainer'. His discussion of Dave's presidency of the North American Vexillological Association (the 'V' word stands for the study of flags) is noteworthy. (Check out the flag website: Witty are his embellishments on the many forms of usage of the word 'mud' - 'muddy thinking', 'muddy waters', 'sling mud', and the state of being 'muddled'. Don't look for a plot; there isn't one. However, as a bona fide book hugger, I recommend 'tree hugger' Anderson's Man Bites Log as a palatable book worthy of inclusion on any reading menu.

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