Saturday, January 08, 2005

Three more inches of slush dumped on us today. A good day to stay inside and work. January is another bear for me workwise, I'm afraid.

A trip to the library was the only bright light. Heir to the Glimmering World by Cynthia Ozick appeared at my feet. And I also happened upon Anita Shreve's Light on Snow on CD--to listen to while I'm cooking, doing dishes, and cleaning the kitchen. Just a month or so ago I heard someone refer to her books as chick-lit. I think the boundaries of that genre are becoming very loose indeed. I admit she's not a literary behemoth, but she's not the pop-'em-out-every-eight-months-potboiling author either. Or is she? Now there's a question to debate.

I've been wanting to blog about Alaskan writer Seth Kantner's Outside Wolves for over a week. I heard a brief, interesting interview with him on Leonard Lopate's show on December 28th. Kantner lives and grew up in northernmost Alaska, in the land of tundra and permafrost. His family home was a sod igloo, the kind that drips moss-colored water from the ceiling when snow melts in the spring. His father Abe was a back-to-nature type from the 1960s. Kantner has lived all his life among the Inupiaq, where he was always the outsider. The novel, though not strictly based on his childhood, incorporates elements of his experience and is about a young teenager coming to manhood in a sometimes brutal and often stark, beautiful world.

"The north wind swept the open tundra and howled into the spruce on the bank where our sod home was buried in the permafrost. The skylight shuddered. Snow laced over the riverbank. The gray wool of moving snow hid the horizons. Overhead the frozen sky purpled with night, and above the wind and frantic branches clung watery stars. Out under tte ice, the wide Kuguruk River flowed past the door, through the arctic part of Alaska that our mail-order schoolbooks called barren icy desert. That shamed me, that quick, throwaway description flung from the far rich East, printed in the black-and-white validation of a textbook. My protests only made Abe shrug."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The title of the book is Ordinary Wolves. Have you read it? Isn't it good?

1:32 AM  
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