Tom Horton

An island out of time : a memoir of Smith island in the Chesapeake

W.W. Norton

New York, 1996
bibliothèque insulaire
N.E. of America
An island out of time : a memoir of Smith island in the Chesapeake / Tom Horton. - New York : W.W. Norton, 1996. - XV-316 p. ; 25 cm.
ISBN 0-393-03938-2
NOTE DE L'ÉDITEUR : An eloquent homage to a community that may not survive to the twenty-first century, but whose traditions are as distinct and beautiful as the Shakers'.

Smith Island is a marshy archipelago in mid-Chesapeake Bay, nine miles from the mainland, home to 500 watermen and their families. This book is a portrait of a people who have remained intimately connected to the place in which they live, far past the time when « place » and « nature » have immediate consequence to most of our lives.

Tom Horton lived for two years on Smith Island, recording through observation and interviews the traditions of oystering, crab catching, church going, hunting and poaching, and the social rituals of these fiercely independent men and women. His beautifully elegiac story is about community and isolation, harvest and exploitation, about the risks and charms of being different from the surrounding world.

The grassy shallows and the hidden bottoms of Smith Island, and of the Chesapeake, once supported a variety of waterfowl and marine life that astonished the early explorers. The decline of these natural wonders and the attempt to restore the health of Chesapeake Bay is one part of the story ; the other is an effort to give voice to a distinctive people whose three centuries of working and being constitute an eloquent statement. A book reminiscent of William Warner's Beautiful Swimmers, by an author whose lyricism recalls the voice of Garrison Keillor.
Tom Horton, former environmental correspondent for the Baltimore Sun and senior writer for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, is a Sun columnist and freelance writer. He lives in Hebron, Maryland.
  • « An island out of time : a memoir of Smith island in the Chesapeake », New York : Vintage books, 1997
  • « An island out of time : a memoir of Smith island in the Chesapeake » with a new afterword, New York : W.W. Norton, 2008

mise-à-jour : 2 mai 2019