The Golden Spruce

The Golden Spruce


The Golden Spruce contains distant echoes of the classic “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. Both books tell the story of one man’s struggle against an apathetic culture which is all too willing to quietly discard and forget what is precious yet vulnerable.

The Golden Spruce tells two stories in parallel. One is the story of British Columbia’s epic forests, the relationship of human cultures (both western and indigenous) to the region’s ecology, and the awe inspiring mutant, the Golden Spruce itself. But, like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the Golden Spruce also tells the story of one man’s lonely battle against the prevailing culture and his severe inner conflict. Ultimately, this conflict festers and leads to a destabilizing psychological and spiritual crisis. For Grant Hadwin, the protagonist in The Golden Spruce, this crisis is the direct result of the logging industry’s assault on the forests of British Columbia. Of course, opposition to industrial scale logging is too great task for any one man to achieve meaningful success, and his inner constitution ultimately crumbles in the midst of frustration.

Of course there are important differences between the two books. Unlike Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, there is no Zen at the end the Golden Spruce, which concludes without clarity and without closure.


The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed
John Vaillant
Published May 2006
4 stars

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