Gus Traynor is the editor of a small weekly newspaper in Fairbanks, Alaska. His idealism has been consistently tested but remains mostly intact, and he prides himself on his independence of spirit. As he says, "I won't be kept inside any building I don't want to be in." So when big business threatens the awe-inspiring Alaskan wilderness that he holds dear, Gus calls for support from his best friend, an often self-serving developer who helps Gus take on the forces of progress.
As Gus investigates the best ways to preserve the dignity and heritage of his community, he learns more than he's ever known about the region's colorful mix of opportunists, dreamers, and artists. But when a young woman's body turns up mysteriously in a river, he also learns that he may be falling in love with the colleague who is helping him report on the local happenings.
A thought-provoking statement on the threat to the environment and the attrition of native cultures, Correcting the Landscape is also an old- fashioned novel driven by a beautiful setting and a group of flawed but eminently likable characters. The winner of the Bellwether Prize, which honors socially and politically engaged fiction, this compelling work marks the arrival of a dazzling, courageous new talent.
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Marjorie Kowalski Cole's poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous journals, including Chattahoochee Review and Alaska Quarterly Review. Her essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, American Poetry Review, and Poets & Writers. She lives in Ester, Alaska, with her husband, Pat Lambert.From Publishers Weekly:
The publisher of a Fairbanks, Alaska, weekly newspaper finds himself tested by matters of love and money in Cole's resolute first novel. Gus Traynor has run the Mercury for 15 years, aided by his fiery sister, Noreen, but these days costs are up and ad sales are down. The paper's difficulties come at a bad time for Gus, a likable and sometimes reluctant gadfly who, after many years of bachelorhood, finds a new reason to fight for his paper's longevity: part-time journalist Gayle Kenneally, a single mother from the native village of Allakeket whose thoughtful, unhurried self-possession capture Gus's attention and ultimately his heart. In Gus, Cole has crafted a sympathetic, winning everyman with a believable mix of pragmatic and contemplative impulses. Cole's attention to an ongoing litany of town issues, on the other hand—the debate over a controversial book; a logging bill—never come alive, but read instead as a lackluster strategy to ratchet up tension. The novel's characters, and their tentative, fully felt interactions in the service of building friendships and love—especially Gus's nervous, endearing, faltering attempts to get closer to Gayle—are at the story's heart, and propel it forward with quiet force. (Jan.)
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