84 Clinker Islands, Lillian Otterman

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Clinker Islands: A Complete History of the Galapagos Archipelago, Lillian Otterman, McGuinn & McGuire, 1993, ISBN 1-88117-03-0, $20.00, 275pp

The title is Herman Melville’s name for the Galapagos–obviously, he wasn’t a fan. I meant to read Melville’s account (a short story entitled “The Encantadas”) but the one chance I got to stop at a library was only to our sad little local branch, on which they spent a lot of money, but hardly any of it on books. Otterman’s book is a compendium of the human visitation to the Galapagos, complied from ship’s logs, personal narratives, and newspaper clippings. She calls her work a history, but I find that appellation too generous for her method of listing every voyage that dropped anchor in the Archipelago. For some silly reason, I thought a history involved “story” rather than just facts (on the other hand, I remember high school history almost too vividly, and a list of facts is about as good as it got there). Jill read this entire book, but I must confess that I skimmed a lot, checking out the bits about the pirates, Mrs. Wittmer, Dr. Ritter, and the Floreana group.

[Finished March 1997]

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