Maine writer rehashes true tale of shipwreck, cannibalism off Maine coast

By Aislinn Sarnacki, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 04, 2012, at 9:47 a.m.

BOON ISLAND: A TRUE STORY OF MUTINY, SHIPWRECK, AND CANNIBALISM by Andrew Vietze and Stephen Erickson, Globe Pequot Press, November 2012, 244 pages, paperback, $16.95.

In a raging storm on Dec. 11, 1710, the Nottingham Galley slammed into Boon Island, just six miles off the coast of Maine, and broke apart. Its captain and 13-man crew, by some miracle, jumped ship, survived the freezing Atlantic and clawed their way onto the barren isle that would be their prison for the next three weeks.

“It’s really just a gripping story. The survival ethic grabbed me at first,” said award-winning Maine author Andrew Vietze, who teamed up with New Hampshire historian Stephen Erickson to revive the traumatic tale.

Their book, “Boon Island: A True Story of Mutiny, Shipwreck, and Cannibalism,” will be released to bookstores Nov. 6, 2012.

Vietze, former managing editor of Down East magazine and a registered Maine guide, has penned six previous books. He also has worked as park ranger at Daicey Pond in Baxter State Park for the past 10 years.

“I’m an outdoorsy kind of person, so the notion of living three weeks without food on an island exposed to the elements is just mind boggling and fascinating,” he said.

Huddled together in a tent made of sailcloth, without even the tools to build a fire, the men endured frostbite and hypothermia. And in the throes of starvation, after one of their shipmates died, the crew ate him.

After the surviving men were rescued, the wreck stirred rumors of insurance fraud, mutiny, treason and cannibalism, becoming one of the most sensational stories of the early 18th century.

“The actual manuscripts exist, the captain’s story you can find and the crew’s story you can find,” Vietze said. “What was interesting to me is where they differed and why.”

At that time, the captain was considered to be a gentleman, so his version of the events was generally trusted over the crewmembers, who belonged to a lower class.

“All through history, the captain’s story is the one that has been taken, that has been sort of accepted as the truth,” Vietze said. “Our [book] gives a lot more credence to the crew.”

For information, visit globepequot.com, andrewvietze.com, and facebook.com/BoonIsland.

TWELVE KINDS OF ICE written by Ellen Bryan Obed and illustrated by Barbara McClintock, November 2012, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 64 pages, hardcover, $16.99.

Ellen Bryan Obed grew up on a six-acre farm in Waterville, where she and her siblings impatiently waited for the first ice and the fun it brings. In poetic, yet refreshingly simple prose, Obed relives her memories of embracing the winter with her family and neighbors.

Though written for ages 6-9, “Twelve Kinds of Ice,” scheduled to be released Nov. 6, is a book for all ages to enjoy, from the first kind of ice, “a skim on a sheep pail so thin it breaks when touched,” to the twelfth kind of ice, “dream ice,” the ice that came to her in her sleep and never melted. The winter memories are carved into 20 detailed vignettes by illustrator Barbara McClintock.

For information, visit hmhco.com.

THE WICKED GOOD BOOK: A GUIDE TO MAINE LIVING by Stephen Gleasner, September 2012, Down East Books, 120 pages, hardcover, $24.95.

Styled after the popular “Dangerous Book for Boys” (2007), “The Wicked Good Book” is a manual for successful Maine living written by Appleton woodworker and artist Stephen Gleasner, whose writing has appeared in publications such as Down East magazine and The American Woodturner. Each lesson in living is brought to life with detailed drawings by Maine-based artist Patrick Corrigan.

It may be common knowledge in New England that Maine is the Pine Tree State, but did you know that there are 115 species of pine? And while Mainers will attest to the state’s breathtaking night sky, they probably don’t know that, on average, 1,500-2,000 stars can be seen in Maine’s night sky with the naked eye on a clear night.

But this book isn’t all about numbers. With a bit of Yankee humor, Gleasner succinctly moves from one Maine-related topic to another. Readers will come across expected topics — lobsters, moose and Katahdin — as well as some more unusual (yet still Maine-related) chapters, such as instructions on how to build a “Moxie Rocket,” hunt nightcrawlers and split firewood “like a lumberjack.”

For information, visit stephengleasner.com or downeast.com.

ERRANTRY: STRANGE STORIES by Elizabeth Hand, Nov. 13, 2012, Small Beer Press, 320 pages, paperback, $16.

This collection of novellas explores the odd and impossible dreams that can motivate and dishearten people in everyday life, written by Elizabeth Hand, a New York Times notable author who divides her time between the coast of Maine and North London. Her novels include Shirley Jackson Award winner “Generation Loss,” in addition to “Mortal Love” and “Available Dark.” And her novella “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” recently was nominated for a Hugo Award.

Slated to hit shelves on Nov. 13, 2012, “Errantry: Strange Stories” brings to life dynamic characters that are relatable to just about any reader. The second story in the collection, “Near Zennor,” is also a Shirley Jackson Award winner. For information, visit elizabethhand.com or smallbeerpress.com.

I, LOBSTER: A CRUSTACEAN ODYESSY by Nancy Frazier, October 2012, University of New Hampshire Press, 264 pages, hardcover, $24.95, e-book, $19.99.

This book is a thorough investigation of the lobster, from the crustacean’s cultural history to recipes to philosophical thinking. Nancy Frazier — a former researcher and writer for Newsweek magazine and author of “The Penguin Concise Dictionary of Art History” — started this project with the intention of studying representations of lobsters in art, but her work evolved as she became more absorbed with the world of lobsters. In “I, Lobster: A Crustacean Odyssey,” readers will learn how this crustacean is much more than a symbol of Maine and a tasty, albeit expensive, dish.

Frazier divides her time between Amherst, Mass., and Waldoboro. For information, visit upne.com/unh.html.

HECTOR: THE ADVENTURES OF A LITTLE BIRD WHO NEEDS GLASSES illustrated by Robert Magnus and written by Angela Nickerson, 2012, Maine Authors Publishing, paperback, $15.95.

This colorful children’s book follows the life of Hector, a bird who has such poor eyesight that he must cling to a chipmunk’s tail to navigate a tree. The charming story, written in rhyme, is a simple coming-of-age tale that is the perfect gift for a child who wears glasses or a child who needs some other type of assistance to see the world more clearly.

Artistically, Hector is loosely based on a yellow warbler, and the scenery of the book is drawn from landscapes at Brewer Lake Shores in Holden, the artist’s and author’s summer home. For information, visit maineauthorspublishing.com.

SUGAR & SALT: A YEAR AT HOME AND AT SEA by Annie Mahle, Schooner J. & E. Riggin, 136 pages, paperback, $24.95.

Annie welcomes readers into her home kitchen in Rockland, where she prepares meals with and for her family during the winter, and onboard the historic wooden sailing vessel the Schooner J. & E. Riggin, where she cooks for 30 people every day from June to September.

Recipes in the book highlight Maine ingredients, with such dishes as lobster and spinach salad with a lime and chive aioli, but also offer items for the more adventurous, such as chipotle chocolate waffles.

There are also a few special sections featuring stories from the J. & E. Riggin and some of Mahle’s personal kitchen tips and tales.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/11/04/living/maine-writer-rehashes-true-tale-of-shipwreck-cannibalism-off-maine-coast/ printed on July 23, 2014