How To Die Down East

Given that I have ALS, you might expect I would not enjoy Buck Tilton’s book, How To Die Down East, but I did. This is a very funny book, focusing on “50 ways to kick the bucket in Maine.”

Those ways range from being “battered by a bear” to “murdered by mosquito.” You could be “chewed by a coyote, obliterated by an owl, fooled by frozen water, or lit up by lightening.”

OK, there are a few ways that are realistic, including heatstroke and hypothermia and wild mushrooms. “Lambasted by a logging truck” sounded like a real possibility too, as did “Washed out by a rogue wave,” something I’d just been warned about in a newspaper column.

Each story includes an explanation of why you might die and advice on how to live. Some of the advice is simple. In Fractured by a fall” we are told: “Don’t fall. Don’t even put yourself in unprotected places where you can fall.” Great advice!

The advice was very good about how to deal with hypothermia and heatstroke. But you might find his advice on dealing with a bear attack to be difficult. “Those wishing to not be bear food report success from returning the bear’s attack, beating the animal on the head and face with anything available, including fists, and otherwise resisting consumption as long as strength allows.”

A guy out west was recently killed by a bear as he tried to take a selfie photo with the bear. My advice is to forget selfies if you encounter a bear.

Published by Down East Books, the book’s illustrations by Mike Lynch are hilarious. The cover illustration of a grimacing guy whose head is surrounded by mosquitos sure seemed real to me! Been there, suffered that.

Tilton is a wilderness medicine expert and instructor, founder of Wilderness Medicine Institute, and the author of more than 40 books. He’s won several awards and lives in Lander, Wyoming. Lynch is also an award winner whose work has been published widely. He lives in Milton, New Hampshire. No wonder he got those illustrations right!