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Little and Often: A Memoir

Little and Often: A Memoir

by Trent Preszler


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Little and Often is a beautiful memoir of grief, love, the shattered bond between a father and son, and the resurrection of a broken heart. Trent Preszler tells his story with the same level of art and craftsmanship that he brings to his boat making, and he reminds us of creativity’s power to transform and heal our lives. This is a powerful and deeply moving book. I won’t soon forget it.”  —Elizabeth Gilbert

Trent Preszler thought he was living the life he always wanted, with a job at a winery and a seaside Long Island home, when he was called back to the life he left behind. After years of estrangement, his cancer-stricken father had invited him to South Dakota for Thanksgiving. It would be the last time he saw his father alive.

Preszler’s only inheritance was a beat-up wooden toolbox that had belonged to his father, who was a cattle rancher, rodeo champion, and Vietnam War Bronze Star Medal recipient. This family heirloom befuddled Preszler. He did not work with his hands—but maybe that was the point. In his grief, he wondered if there was still a way to understand his father, and with that came an epiphany: he would make something with his inheritance. Having no experience or training in woodcraft, driven only by blind will, he decided to build a wooden canoe, and he would aim to paddle it on the first anniversary of his father’s death.

While Preszler taught himself how to use his father’s tools, he confronted unexpected revelations about his father’s secret history and his own struggle for self-respect. The grueling challenges of boatbuilding tested his limits, but the canoe became his sole consolation. Gradually, Preszler learned what working with his hands offered: a different per­spective on life, and the means to change it.

Little and Often is an unflinching account of bereavement and a stirring reflection on the complexities of inheritance. Between his past and his present, and between America’s heartland and its coasts, Preszler shows how one can achieve reconciliation through the healing power of creativity.

“Insightful, lyrical…Little and Often proves to be a rich tale of self-discovery and reconciliation. Resonating with Robert Pirsig’s classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, it is a profound father-and-son odyssey that discovers the importance of the beauty of imperfection and small triumphs that make extraordinary happen.”  —USA Today (★★★★)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062976659
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/26/2022
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 303,026
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Trent Preszler grew up on a cattle ranch in South Dakota and received his BS from Iowa State University in 1998. He was subsequently awarded a Rotary Scholarship to the UK and a diploma from the Royal Botanic Garden. After a White House internship for President Bill Clinton, he earned an MS in agricultural economics and a PhD in horticulture from Cornell University. He is now the CEO of Bedell Cellars and founder of Preszler Woodshop. He lives in New York. Little and Often is his first book.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xiii

Prologue 1

Chapter 1 The Phone Call 3

Chapter 2 First Crush 7

Chapter 3 The Long Way Home 13

Chapter 4 Thanksgiving 23

Chapter 5 The Last Cowboy 32

Chapter 6 Feast or Famine 42

Chapter 7 Riding Lessons 48

Chapter 8 Whiteout 53

Chapter 9 Thank You for Your Service 63

Chapter 10 House of Secrets 72

Chapter 11 Duck Hunting 80

Chapter 12 The Unboxing 88

Chapter 13 Fewer and Better 98

Chapter 14 Educated 106

Chapter 15 Preszler Woodshop 112

Chapter 16 The Strongback 124

Chapter 17 True to Form 133

Chapter 18 Branding Day 141

Chapter 19 Breaking Point 150

Chapter 20 Valley of the Giants 160

Chapter 21 Unexpected Guests 172

Chapter 22 Oh, Mom 184

Chapter 23 Lost and Found 192

Chapter 24 Little and Often Makes Much 203

Chapter 25 Summer by the Sea 214

Chapter 26 The Whiskey Plank 225

Chapter 27 A Party 232

Chapter 28 Rash Decisions 242

Chapter 29 The Hearts of Men 252

Chapter 30 Ashes to Ashes 264

Chapter 31 Floating 272

Epilogue 283

Acknowledgments 285

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