Little and Often
A USA TODAY BEST BOOK OF 2021 (★★★★)
“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 (★★★★)