Chronogram logo

Book Review: My River Chronicles

Anne Pyburn
November 25, 2009

The Hudson River Valley is breathtaking in many places, and one thing she’s not is a virgin. From roadways originally designed for horse and foot traffic to the oily gravel of a small city’s waterfront, the layers of time and experience run deep hereabouts. Our river has taken a hearty share of star turns on the stage of American history, and seen all manner of greatness and treachery.

But who is she, really? Anyone seeking to understand this sophisticated, complex beauty needs to read Jessica DuLong’s My River Chronicles—and I speak as a lifelong Hudson Valley resident whose comprehension and love of her home were significantly deepened by this book.

The river reached out and pulled DuLong from a Manhattan dot-com job to the engine room of fireboat John J. Harvey. Her longing to take part in something hands-on and tangible is probably present, either consciously or as a psychic toothache of sorts, in every human being whose work world is ruled by technology. Too few, perhaps, heed that yen to get their hands dirty and their backs tired, but DuLong runs with that yearning, all the way to what feels less like a radical change of career than a blossoming of her true self.