This is my second installment regarding my previously declared quest, which is reading a book written by an author from every state in the union. This selection is from Alaska and the book is IF YOU LIVED HERE, I’D KNOW YOUR NAME, NEWS FROM SMALL TOWN ALASKA by Heather Lende.
I am thankful for my quest leading me to this book. It was thoroughly enjoyable. Heather Lende is a frequent contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition. Moving to Alaska on her honeymoon, she and her husband Chip eventually found themselves in Haines, Alaska. Located in the shadow of a glacier, it is located 90 miles north of Juneau and accessible only by water or air (and then, only when the weather is good). At the time of publication, the population is 2500, with no traffic light, no mail delivery and no hospital.
Heather writes for the social column and the obituaries for the local newspaper. “Writing about the dead helps me celebrate the living.” she says. And live they do in Haines. It is a tough place to live, the inhabitants are self-sustainable. But, the town is full of characters, and this book is her observations.
You meet a high school principal that impersonates Roy Orbison, a one legged female gold minor and Speedy Joe who never took of his hat, even for sleeping or a haircut.
The stories are both humorous and heart-breaking – but they are well worth reading. There are times you will stop and laugh out loud, there are times you will stop to wipe away tears (I finished this in the airport in Indianapolis with tears streaming unapologetically down my face.”
The LA Times compared her to “Annie Lamott meets Annie Dillard”. I found her writing still readible and very poetic.
And – it is only $1.99 on kindle right now! I will re-read parts of this again!
Part of my quest is to learn some new facts about the states – so here goes for Alaska:
Alaska is the from the Eskimo word Alakshak – meaning great lands or a peninsula
The first settlement was in 1784
Gold was discovered in 1880 by Joe Juneau
Rhode Island would fit into Alaska 425 times
The state flower is the Wild Forget-me-Not (since 1917)
Dog mushing is the state sport
Gold is the state minseral
Tongass National Forest is the largest in the US
17 of the 20 highest peaks in the US are in Alaska
One third of Alaska is in the arctic circle
Over 2x the size of Texas and 2700 miles wide, if it was superimposed over the lower 48, it would reach coast to coast
It has 6600 miles of coastline
Now I want to go to Alaska at some point. My next book will be from a writer in Arizona!