I couldn‘t put a face on Jack Perkins, NBC newsman of the 1980s. But one flip to his website, and, yes, I immediately recognized him and could place his distinctive voice. He’s a no-nonsense guy you think you can trust. And his memoir gives you more reason to like him.
A good book takes you someplace beyond your own confined world. And that’s just what happened to me when reading FINDING MOOSEWOOD (Moosewood being the name they give their Maine property). Perkins’s prose transported me simultaneously to two worlds: the “bright-lights” life that’s often featured in the news --- New York, Washington, Los Angeles --- and an uninhabited winter-wild island near Bar Harbor, Maine.
"A good book takes you someplace beyond your own confined world. And that’s just what happened to me when reading FINDING MOOSEWOOD... Perkins does an exceptional job of weaving thematic chapters that serve to move the narrative along in time..."
Perkins does an exceptional job of weaving thematic chapters that serve to move the narrative along in time --- from youth to a budding career to I’m-out-of-here and moving to an island that accessible only at low tide --- even as he introduces flashbacks that give the reader new insight into his professional and spiritual journey. Granted, sometimes I did get lost chronologically (in what decade did this happen?), but it didn’t seem to matter. I was so enjoying the ride.
Perkins is not above name dropping --- he’s good friends with George Clooney’s parents; he was playing cards with Pierre Salinger the night the Cuban missiles became a crisis; he interviewed Joan Miro and Ansel Adams; he lives near Stephen King; oh, and there’s a weird and wonderful Marlon Brando story --- but, again, it’s carried off skillfully.
The memoir ultimately is an unfolding spiritual journey, of how God drew Perkins out of the limelight --- to a quiet place where he could learn to listen; to nature; to writings of Thoreau and Abraham Lincoln; to Scripture; to fellow pilgrims. Readers who are looking for a dramatic moment of conversion or a Bible verse on every page will be disappointed. As Perkins, now turning 80, looks back on his life --- the people he met, the conversations he remembered, the inner nudging he followed, the choices he made --- he identifies many small but significant ways the Holy Spirit used to draw him to God. “There was no blinding flash of lightning on a road to Damascus, no burning bush, only --- when it finally resolved --- a book, a dinner, and a walk on the bottom of the sea.” Toward the end of his narrative, Perkins writes briefly about holiness. It’s a word I grew up with but don’t often hear or see these days. Perkins uses it well, as a life goal or pursuit.
I’ve been remiss in not mentioning his wife. She is such a critical part of the story, their team seemingly still strong after 53 years of marriage.
Reviewed by Evelyn Bence on April 12, 2013