Buck, Rinker 1951(?)-
BUCK, Rinker 1951(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1951; son of Thomas (a pilot and magazine publisher) Rinker; married Amelia de Neergaard; children: Sara. Education: Graduated from Bowdoin College, 1973.
ADDRESSES: Home—West Cornwall, CT. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Hyperion, 114 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011.
CAREER: Berkshire Eagle, MA, reporter; Hartford Courant, Hartford, CT, writer and editor; worked as a journalist for New York, Life, and Adweek.
Flight of Passage, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1997.
If We Had Wings: The Enduring Dream of Flight, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2001.
First Job: A Memoir of Growing Up at Work, Public Affairs (New York, NY), 2002.
Shane Comes Home, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor of articles to magazines and newspapers.
SIDELIGHTS: Rinker Buck is a journalist whose first book, Flight of Passage, documents a cross-country flight he made in 1966 with his brother, Kern. At the time of their joint adventure, Kern was seventeen and held a pilot's license, while Rinker, aged fifteen, was the navigator. Their craft was a Piper Cub named 71-Hotel, built before either of the boys was born. The boys spent three hundred dollars restoring the twoseater, hand-cranked tailwheeler, then flew from their home in New Vernon, New Jersey, to California. They undertook this feat with the blessing of their father, a former daredevil pilot. They made the trip in five days and earned celebrity status for being the youngest aviators to fly coast to coast.
Flight of Passage is an "insightful portrayal of father-sons and brother-brother relationships through the filter of [the] intense and confused emotions of a teenager," reported Mary Ann Parker in Library Journal. The memoir was also highly recommended by Bob Minzesheimer, a contributor to USA Today, who remarked that although the book never made it to the bestseller lists, it was still his "favorite book of the year…. A story that will make readers laugh and cry, just as families do." Minzesheimer mused that Flight of Passage "reaches beyond its personal story to deal with the terrible beauty of families and with the larger world."
In addition to being a memoir, Flight of Passage is also "part tribute to the cocksure recklessness of a couple of teenagers," wrote Hubert B. Herring in the New York Times. The boys' adventures included traveling through a storm in Pennsylvania, accidentally lodging in a roadside brothel, making a precarious passage over the Rockies, and having a disagreement with some crop-dusting pilots. Herring also interviewed Buck, who credited his father for "the training that got us to California." Buck talked about the "continuity" in life, saying "That's part of why flying exhilarates me—it's a connection to childhood." Asked about his motivation for writing the story by a Bold Type interviewer, Buck replied, "I tried … to think of the reader first and just write the classic good book, observing all the rules of the coming of age genre. A lot of writers don't like to talk about their mentors and influences. But I feel that writing is basically derivative and to make a good book successful you have to appeal to the universal consciousness of storytelling that all literate people have." Reflecting on his parents' attitudes about the flight and the dangers involved in making it, Buck commented, "Our house was very much a patriarchy…. My father was a bit of a headcase, my mom knew absolutely nothing about aviation. And we had already done all this crazy stuff as a family—taking a covered wagon trip down through Pennsylvania one year, putting up a Nativity creche with live animals every Christmas." He mused: "I still don't know why my father let us do it…. 'My father was a dreamer, a magnificent dreamer,' I say in the introduction…. And we were very much his boys and became dreamers too, which negated all practical considerations."
Buck's background in aviation informed his 2001 publication, If We Had Wings: The Enduring Dream of Flight. In this book, he presents the history of human flight, focusing mostly on American achievements, from the Wright brothers to the Apollo space missions. Notable aviators from France, Germany, and the former Soviet Union are also covered. Text is interspersed with copious pictures, diagrams, reproductions of key documents, and the like. A School Library Journal reviewer, Sheila Shoup, found each page so rich with "information and interactive elements" that, she predicted, "readers will find that an amazing amount of time has flown by before they flip to the next page."
Buck recalled his early days as a reporter in First Job: A Memoir of Growing Up at Work. As a recent graduate from Boston's Bowdoin College in 1973, Buck had no notion of becoming a journalist. He was touring New England on a motorcycle when he chanced to stop at the Berkshire Eagle, one of the finest small newspapers in the country. He began his apprenticeship there by writing obituaries and weather-related stories, and during his off-hours, he lived through various romantic escapades and enjoyed the beautiful countryside. His memoir is "a charming and funny tale of unfettered and randy youth," affirmed James Boylan in Columbia Journalism Review. A Publishers Weekly writer recommended it as an "exuberant, enjoyable" tale, in which the author "energetically and humorously" recounts his successes and failures, making them come alive "with rich dialogue and bright descriptions of the people and mountainous landscape."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2005, Roland Green, review of Shane Comes Home, p. 1260.
Columbia Journalism Review, November-December, 2002, James Boylan, review of First Job: A Memoir of Growing Up at Work, p. 76.
Flying, December, 2001, Elizabeth J. Murray, review of If We Had Wings: The Dream of Enduring Flight, p. 36.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 1997; March 15, 2005, review of Shane Comes Home, p. 325.
Kliatt, January, 1999, review of Flight of Passage, p. 24.
Library Journal, June 1, 1997, Mary Ann Parker, review of Flight of Passage.
New York Times, August 20, 1997, Hubert B. Herring, review of Flight of Passage.
Publishers Weekly, October 4, 1993, p. 13; April 7, 1997, p. 78; August 26, 2002, review of First Job, p. 60.
School Library Journal, September, 2001, Sheila Shoup, review of If We Had Wings, p. 260.
USA Today, September 11, 1997; December 4, 1997.
Bold Type, http://www.randomhouse.com/boldtype/ (December 12, 2002), interview with Rinker Buck.*