Select one of the keywords
Tilting    by Robert Mellin order for
by Robert Mellin
Order:  USA  Can
Princeton Architectural Press, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

It's hard to believe that Tilting is actually the name of a place. And it's not anywhere near the Leaning Tower of Pisa as one might expect. It's an outport (fishing village) in Fogo Island, Newfoundland. The book is about the fragile architecture that exists in the area's rugged, tree-less landscape, but it's also an account of a place and a people, whose Irish hospitality is proud to claim 'what you gives you'll never miss.'

Mellin tells us that visiting Tilting is 'like coming home to another time and another place ... where stories, wit, and local history still takes priority over television and the Internet.' I'm glad that he's captured some of that history in his book, which is interspersed with lengthy and engaging commentaries from locals like Ted Burke - they reminded me of the kinds of stories you'd hear in an Irish country pub.

One possibility of the origin of the outport's name is apparently that fishermen used to 'tilt, that is to head split, and salt their fish' there. It was interesting to note that a US squadron had a World War II base nearby, much of whose materials have been recycled in local building projects. And before the intrusion of roads, all homes faced the harbor, 'turning it into a stage', which makes sense since the sea was both a source of sustenance and of danger.

The book is full of local stories and photographs that tempt a visit. There are accounts of a culture that's disappeared elsewhere, involving wakes and mummers, and doors that are always open. The author covers details of construction, such as painting wood shingles with a mix of cod liver oils and ochre. He tells us about 'house launching', fishing stages, cabbage houses, and clever use of existing materials to make things like a flour barrel rocking chair.

Tilting is a beautiful, fascinating book that gives voice (and colorful images) to a people who survived 'in an isolated, inhospitable landscape, far from Ireland, and made it their home.'

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Travel books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews