Winter Passage: Essays, Memoirs, Journeys
Six Mile Creek Press
by Alan Littell
Longtime newspaperman, travel writer and Ocean Navigator contributor Alan Littell has compiled a volume of his writings that demonstrates both his globetrotting experience and his keen skill at eyewitness journalism. This reflective collection of essays speaks to the power of nature, the tug of memory and the insights of travel for those with open eyes. Two of the essays were first published in ON.
The title essay, “Winter Passage,” is a 1960 account of a trans-Atlantic crossing aboard a freighter, back when merchant ships still booked passengers. The piece is a pithy distillation of life at sea; Littell notes the raw beauty of the ever-changing conditions, the offshore isolation and the closed circle of shipboard chatter.
“The ship is independent of all global life. Its routine of watch-on, watch-off, the gray sky, the vast and circular gray sea, these are the only realities. Conversation is repetitious: of ships, their crews, of bookies in Boston, taverns in Amsterdam, whores in Birkenhead, Wilhelmshaven and Hamburg.”
In this wide range of essays, Littell shows himself a seasoned traveler and thoughtful observer of both the courageous and craven aspects of human nature. The trip is intriguing and rewarding throughout.