BAR HARBOR — Porter Fox will discuss his book “Northland: A 4,000-Mile Journey Along America’s Forgotten Border” Tuesday, May 28, at 7 p.m. at the Jesup Memorial Library.
Fox grew up in Southwest Harbor, attending Pemetic Elementary. He graduated from MDI High School in 1990, where he said his classes were much harder than the ones he took in college at Middlebury.
The northern border of the United States was America’s primary border for years and is the world’s longest international boundary. While the southern border is now the fixation of much discussion, Fox set out to demystify the northern border telling stories of its past and the people who now call this area, called ‘Northland,’ home.
Fox traversed the border by canoe, freighter, car, and foot. He made the journey along the national boundary line from east to west in sections over the course of three years, returning home to Brooklyn, N.Y. in between.
Setting out from the easternmost point in the mainland United States, Fox followed explorer Samuel de Champlain’s route across the Northeast; crossed the Great Lakes on a freighter; tracked America’s fur traders through the Boundary Waters; and traced the forty-ninth parallel from Minnesota to the Pacific Ocean.
Fox was inspired by a 2001 book by Ian Frazier about the Great Plains. The idea, he said, was “stumbling into stories as I go, and at the end, picking the threads that would echo off of one another.” This narrative nonfiction form is also his favorite to teach, in his role as a writing professor at Columbia University.
Fox is the editor of Nowhere and the author of the book “DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow.” His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Believer, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, and The Best American Travel Writing. He lives in New York.