Drunk in the Woods, Tony Whedon 2018
I read this book because it was one of ten nominated for the 2019 Vermont Book Award given annually by the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Each year I try to read and review the nominees for my BookMarks column in the three southern Vermont newspapers. I had already read and reviewed three of the books but had not heard of Whedon or this book, so I was eager to read it. I was, however, ultimately disappointed. He’s an interesting guy who has published three books of poetry, plays the jazz trombone, founded the Green Mountain Review, and is a man with a long history of destructive alcoholism who is now sober. This book of essays is very uneven, with beautiful reveries about Vermont’s woods, hills, rivers, flora and fauna which Whedon experiences on his long hikes in all seasons from his home in Montgomery, VT, close to the Quebec border and far from any city. On the other hand, I found his essays about his drinking to be less well written and interesting. Coming from a long line of alcoholics, Whedon’s drinking had resulted in injury, fights, loss of friends and jobs and a litany of bad news much of which is recounted in this book. The fact that he was able to get sober with help from Alcoholics Anonymous is an inspiring story but one that suffers from repetition through the book. The Vermont Book Award went to a graphic novel this year, but Whedon’s book is a good addition to my collection of Vermont nature and hiking books.