Book Report: The Making of a Hardrock Miner

My two current writing projects that I’ll never complete are:

  1. Writing the last great World War 2 novel.
  2. Writing the first great asteroid mining novel.

I needed some vernacular to move ahead with #2, and I found this book (The Making of a Hardrock Miner by Stephen Voynick) on Amazon. It’s very good. It’s a first-person account of a guy who started working in western US mines in order to fund his living the life of a seasonally-employed other-seasonally man of leisure. It’s a very outsiderish perspective on mining. The guy works short stints at mines in Colorado, Arizona, and Wyoming. The outsiderness affords him insights that probably wouldn’t have been clear to someone on the inside; it also makes it easier for someone with no clue about mining to relate to the narrative.

I think there are two different kinds of first-person non-fiction accounts:

  1. Those written for money.
  2. Those written to expose truth.

I think an easy contrast between the two in World War II terms is anything by Robert Leckey was the first and Eugene Sledge’s book was the second. Most are probably the first kind. This book’s the second.

If you’re reading something written for money, it should make you skeptical of the content. The goal is to make money. People like excitement and controversy. People buy what they like. Ergo, books written for money are going to be more exciting and controversial than the actual experiences and events they describe. The Voynick book includes event. It’s unadorned and lays stuff out there for the reader to romanticize it, learn from it, or whatever.

Its central theme is also similar to one of the themes from my would-be mining novel: that certain people need risk and transience in their lives and, without it, feel insecure and ungrounded. Maybe I also identify with that sentiment. I’m probably never going to be a hardrock miner though.