NC Literary Hall of Fame



Down the Wild Cape Fear by Phillip Gerard












Down the Wild Cape Fear by Phillip Gerard

University of North Carolina Press
Hardcover, $30.00
ISBN: 978-1-469602073
March, 2013
Available from your local bookstore or

"Equal parts historical survey, river adventure and nature walk, it's a fascinating trip down North Carolina's most storied river."
Raleigh News and Observer

"An adventure story paired with a view of the ecology, history, development, and industry along a vital river that runs from the core of North Carolina to the coast. Gerard uses glittering, evocative prose to recount his travels by canoe and powerboat down the Wild Cape Fear River with a guide, biologist, photographer, and others. . . . This is a compelling story that offers a striking and thoughtful look at the many environmental, political, and commercial issues affecting this region and the waterway that feeds it."

In Down the Wild Cape Fear, novelist and nonfiction writer Philip Gerard invites readers onto the fabled waters of the Cape Fear River and guides them on the 200-mile voyage from the confluence of the Deep and Haw Rivers at Mermaid Point all the way to the Cape of Fear on Bald Head Island. Accompanying the author by canoe and powerboat are a cadre of people passionate about the river, among them a river guide, a photographer, a biologist, a river keeper, and a boat captain. Historical voices also lend their wisdom to our understanding of this river, which has been a main artery of commerce, culture, settlement, and war for the entire region since it was first discovered by Verrazzano in 1524.

Gerard explores the myriad environmental and political issues being played out along the waters of the Cape Fear. These include commerce and environmental stewardship, wilderness and development, suburban sprawl and the decline and renaissance of inner cities, and private rights versus the public good.

Philip Gerard chairs the Department of Creative Writing (BFA and MFA) at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and is co-editor of the literary journal Chautauqua. He has published fiction and nonfiction in numerous magazines, including New England Review/Bread Loaf Quarterly, Creative Nonfiction, Hawai'i Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, New Letters, Arts & Letters, Fourth Genre, and The World & I. He is the author of five books of nonfiction, including The Patron Saint of Dreams and Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life, and three novels. Two of his weekly radio essays have been broadcast on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. Gerard has served as writer in residence at Old Dominion University in Virginia and has taught at Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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