Friday, October 10, 2008

Jacob Denver

As I promised you last week, this post is all about Jacob Denver, one of the three point of view characters in Eddie's Wake. Jacob is the brother of Eddie's fishing partner, Will. Like Maggie Stern's character, Jacob is a composite of many men I've known. My grandfather was very interested in history, especially anything having to do with lumbering in Michigan; but I didn't know him as a young man, and I never saw his anger or passion, just his integrity, his love of family, and the stories he told about pranks he played as a youth. You can see some of the lumbering tools he collected over the years in the photo above.
Jacob Denver believes he has a great reason for acting like a jerk--which he does from time to time. Will has the guts to call him on it, taking away his flimsy excuse. The brothers grew up in a family of wealth; Will rejecting it and Jacob becoming the rich boy/man who believed money could solve almost every misfortune he'd hit in life. Yet he learns by the end of the novel that true love can take a person into disagreeable and dangerous situations that money could never fix.
Here's a short passage from the novel all about Jacob Denver:

The long drive north went smoothly, and although patches of snow covered the ground in places, the roads were clear and the sun shone. From Wakelin, Wisconsin, Jacob drove north and west along the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, past lake after lake in what once was a forest thick with white pine. At Carson Village he turned pure north, skirting the state of Michigan at Hurley, and from there drove west into the sun along the south shore of Lake Superior. Tomos Bay clung to the eastern limits of Ashland like a jealous little sister.
Jacob stopped twice along the way to check the white pine seedlings he planted two springs ago, caressing the soft needles of this one or that. He loved the way they felt: supple, tender, pliable enough to survive the heavy snows to come. Jacob’s grandfather had amassed a huge fortune for himself in lumber and Jacob’s father, Henry followed in his footsteps, clear-cutting the land, ignoring the wounds they made in the rapidly dwindling forests. Once they’d finished with it, their generations sold it to unsuspecting immigrants who soon found it unsuitable for farming.
Even before Henry died, Jacob decided it was up to him to atone for the sins of his forebears. He bought up acre upon acre of stump-studded, rocky property and endured his father’s ridicule for making such foolish investments. Jacob paid a fair price to the immigrants, employed some of them and began to restore the great pine forest by planting new trees wherever he could. It would be many years, however, before the land looked anything like a forest again.

Till next time...

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