Book Recommendation: Alaskan Life

Lately, I’ve been reading Seth Kantner’s book, “Ordinary Wolves.”  It’s about a boy named Kataq that grows up in the arctic in a sod hut near a tiny remote (non-regional hub) village and how he struggles to find his place between the modern world and the old ways of the arctic.  I strongly recommend the book to anyone from the bush, or to anyone that has family that spent any serious time up there. 

It really takes me back, not to my youth, because I was raised in BIA built housing and had flush toilets and running water in the same types of school housing which was built all over rural Alaska: Kotzebue, Savoonga, and such, but to back to the mind-set of the bush, and the way of speaking up there.  What gives the book such verisimilitude is the dialog which is constantly riddled with Inupiaq words and has its grammar written in the once familiar way I grew up speaking.  Most of the text is written in a fairly literary style which is hard to get through, for the most pat, but the dialog seems so real I just keep on reading. 

Getting emails from old classmates in Barrow is fun and interesting too.  It’s interesting to try to imagine how we are living these days.  I live in a little cabin with my wife and two young boys.  Holly is from the Seattle Area and went to college back east in a private elite women’s college, I think it’s spelled Bryn Mawr College. I keep trying to figure out how I could possibly head up there for the 20th HS reunion to see everyone.  With gillnetting the way it is, I just don’t see how I can take time off.

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