9th ed. 1994; 858 pp. $27.95. Sasquatch Books, 615 Second Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104. 206/467-4300, www.SasquatchBooks.com.
This book is a monument to the coevolution of a person and an idea. It affirms the I Ching's notion that perseverance furthers. Twenty-five years after its birth by mimeography in a Kendrick, Idaho kitchen, the Encyclopedia has survived its ninth pupation and emerged as a perfect-bound, 900-page, real live book. "More than 300,000 Sold!" says the back cover. More than 80,000 of those copies were produced by Carla Emery's own two hands and distributed from the tailgate of a station wagon full of kids.
Reading this edition is like studying someone's lifelong obsession with the collection and arrangement of salt-and-pepper shakers. One marvels at the sheer volume of knickknacks, but wonders about some of the choices. (Does even the rawest of recruits to Arcadian existence really need to be told that a chain saw is the best tool for cutting firewood? Is there any practical utility in learning from a book how to castrate a pig or harvest a crop of wheat with a scythe?)
Nevertheless, as folk literature?as the crazy quilt of a quarter-century's worth of hints for rural living and as a monument to one woman's determination to feed her seven children by ingenuity and hard work?this book should be shelved in your collection between the Foxfire books and Alicia Bay Laurel's Living on the Earth .