The title of Philip Earle’s book, I’LL GO THE LENGTH OF MESELF, refers to a person stretching himself to his absolute limits, something Skipper Guy Earle, the book’s subject, did all his life – an admirable trait, particularly in a community where the harshness of the environment, and the struggle to survive, required continually reaching to the limits and beyond what one had previously thought possible. The author, the Skipper’s son, clearly idolizes his late father, and that hero-worship shines through every single page. In his defense, though, it’s a hero-worship apparently shared by almost everyone who knew Skipper Guy, including people who were beaten up or out competed by him, as well as people whose children he saved from drowning, or whose boats he filled with groceries when he knew their families were going hungry. He was a larger-than-life person on pretty much every count – physical strength, courage, intelligence, ability to assess and respond quickly to a dangerous situation, compassion, generosity, and sheer force of personality. But he was also an embodiment of his culture and his times, the daring fishermen and mariners of the Labrador coast, and it is through his example and his stories that his son brings that world and that culture to vivid life on the page.
Earle has a gift for description, and for immersing the reader in a scene – clearly the events and places he describes are still bright and fresh in his own memory, if perhaps seen on occasion through rose-colored glasses. The book is written as a series of anecdotes and stories, many of them with careful footnotes giving the names of witnesses lest we should find them unbelievable or exaggerated. So despite the length of the book, it’s easy enough to pick up and read a few stories here or there as you have time – it’s by no means something you have to finish in one sitting, although it’s engaging enough to do so if you do have time. And it’s well worth the read, especially for readers who enjoy living history, who love tales of adventure and danger on turbulent seas, and who revel in stories with larger-than-life, vigorous, and thoroughly delightful heroes. On the whole, this is a book shining with love – a boy’s love for his father, a man’s love for his community and his friends, and a community’s love for their heroes, for those who exemplify their highest virtues.
I’LL GO THE LENGTH OF MESELF is not only a touching tribute to Skipper Guy Earle, author Philip Earle’s father and greatest hero, but also a warm, nostalgic look back at an entire culture and its character and values.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader