Reviews

Little Ship of Fools
“In a thrilling adventure on the high seas, the sexagenarian Wilkins joins a grueling, 3,000-mile expedition across the Atlantic as he and a crew of college rowing alumni, drifters, and philosophers attempt to beat a world record. After months of training, delays, and financial setbacks, the author and his team embark off the western coast of Morocco on the first ocean-rowing catamaran ever constructed: a 40-foot craft that alternately serves as cozy home, claustrophobic prison, spiritual crucible, and medieval torture device for the 16 souls who call it home. En route to the Caribbean nation of Barbados, after weeks of malnutrition, illness, injury, spectacular animal encounters, and near-death experiences, the on-board drama escalates into a maritime Lord of the Flies as coups and mutinies threaten the mission, all deftly narrated with Wilkins’ trademark humor and guile. Infused with wit, charm, and sense of wonder, the playful but epic tale stands as a testament to the human spirit stripped bare by the power of nature.”

– Booklist, Chicago, August, 2013


“Wilkins is starkly—though still poetically—honest …The magic of Wilkins’ storytelling is in the fact that none of the misery makes the journey seem any less enticing.”

– Kirkus Reviews, September, 2013


“An inspiring read and a great adventure tale.”

– Library Journal, New York, October, 2013


“Charlie Wilkins, wet or dry, is the best travel writer in the country.”

– Joe Fiorito, Toronto Star


“Rarely have I been so drop-jaw riveted by a book, so won over by a writer’s chops and heart, so happy to be dry.”

– Mary Roach, bestselling author of Stiff and Gulp

 

In the Land of Long Fingernails
“A gem — an irreverent, twisted and occasionally revolting corker, populated by a wildly entertaining workforce… It’s the humanity at the core of the book — plus Wilkins’ gymnastic prose and laughs aplenty — that really powers this book.”

– Toronto Star


“Remarkable reading… Wilkins provides a singularly poignant comic look behind the scenes of an oftentimes gloomy business.”

– Chicago Sun-Times


“Wilkins is a master storyteller, and canny with a punch line. … If this were a just world, someone would put him on a fat retainer and send him on frequent adventures, because, even when he writes about himself, Wilkins is really writing about us.”

– Literary Review of Canada


“Readers will never look at cemeteries the same way again after this utterly fascinating and unforgettable memoir.”

– Scene Magazine


“Wilkins distills his bizarre day-to-day into a cohesive narrative and a compelling commentary on the times — a perfect trip for those who weren’t able to take off work for the Summer of Love “.

– Publishers Weekly


“If Raymond Chandler had written a memoir, I could imagine it reading like this.. Though Wilkins insists that his summer among the “stinkers” gave him no insights into death, he turns around a half-page later and drops one as profound and poetic as anything served up by Dickinson or Dostoyevsky: “Death, like any other shadow, has no depth or interior, and is unknowable except as a stoppage of the light.” I don’t know how Charles Wilkins escaped my notice until now, but I intend to read as many of his books as I can before I, too, end up in the land of long fingernails.”

– Mary Roach, Globe and Mail

 

Walk to New York
“Wilkins is a thoughtful, literate writer who provides fascinating insights into the world of his experience and the larger world beyond… A wonderful and wonderfully honest account.”

– Globe and Mail


“I was afraid that reading of Wilkins’ travels would make me dissatisfied with my own static existence, but instead I was happy to worry and laugh and be amazed by every page.”

– Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal


“You cannot read Walk to New York without hiking alongside this funny and intelligent man.”

– Literary Review of Canada


“Wilkins is very good at writing about himself.”

– Toronto Star

 

The Circus at the Edge of the Earth
“A masterful piece of writing… well worth the price of admission.”

– Montreal Gazette


“An exhilarating tribute to a disappearing art.”

– Kirkus Reviews


“Not only does Wilkins get to the edge of the earth, but he also manages to convey why his subjects are so determined to live there. On the edge of society, and all too often of life itself.”

– Toronto Star


“Wilkins is a talented storyteller whose prose is driven by rich imagery and an often striking sense of humour. At the most unexpected moments, you find yourself laughing out loud.”

– New York Times


“Wilkins takes us on a marvelous tour… a fine and fascinating book.”

– Quill & Quire


“Wilkins is able to take the garish backdrops and outrageous stories and offer the reader something moving and profound.”

– Canadian Forum


“I was instantly ensnared… This is a journey you will want to take.”

– Patrick Watson, Globe and Mail

 

A Wilderness Called Home
“This book has so many moment of risk, discovery, delight and character that it becomes something you want to chatter about.”

– Globe and Mail


“A fascinating look at Canadians in far flung parts of the land living close to the wild.”

– Hamilton Spectator


“An example of writerly ability and writerly courage combined.”

– Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal

 

The Wild Ride
“Charles Wilkins has turned The Wild Ride into something more exciting and imaginative than the pure historians have ever written.”

– Saskatoon Star-Phoenix


“Wilkins brings liveliness and humour to The Wild Ride, which also happens to be a well-researched history.”

– Toronto Star


“There is very little not to like about this book.”

– Canada’s History


“This book helps to dispel the misconception that the opening of the Canadian West was a bland affair.”

– Globe and Mail