Fiction Seth Kantner Ordinary Wolves: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9781571310477

Ordinary Wolves: A Novel

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9781571310477: Ordinary Wolves: A Novel

In the tradition of Jack London, Seth Kantner presents an Alaska far removed from majestic clichés of exotic travelogues and picture postcards. Kantner’s vivid and poetic prose lets readers experience Cutuk Hawcly’s life on the Alaskan plains through the character’s own words feeling the pliers pinch of cold and hunkering in an igloo in blinding blizzards. Always in Cutuk’s mind are his father Ab,; the legendary hunter Enuk Wolfglove, and the wolves all living out lives on the unforgiving tundra. Jeered and pummeled by native children because he is white, Cutuk becomes a marginal participant in village life, caught between cultures. After an accident for which he is responsible, he faces a decision that could radically change his life. Like his young hero, Seth Kantner grew up in a sod igloo in the Alaska, and his experiences of wearing mukluks before they were fashionable, eating boiled caribou pelvis, and communing with the native tribes add depth and power to this acclaimed narrative.

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About the Author:

Seth Kantner trapper, fisherman, photographer, igloo-builder, and acclaimed author of Ordinary Wolves was born in a sod igloo on the Alaskan tundra and raised on the land, wearing mukluks before they were fashionable, eating boiled caribou pelvis, and trading and living with the Iñupiaq, the people native to the region. Kantner attended the University of Alaska and the University of Montana, where he received a B. A. in journalism. Kantner’s writings and photographs have appeared in Outside, Prairie Schooner, Alaska, and Reader’s Digest, among other anthologies and publications. His work and writing have earned him the Whiting Writers Award, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and the Milkweed National Fiction Prize among many others. He lives with his wife and daughter in northwest Alaska.

From Publishers Weekly:

In the small but growing genre of ecological fiction, the great challenge is to balance political and environmental agendas with engrossing storytelling. This riveting first novel sets a new standard, offering a profound and beautiful account of a boy's attempt to reconcile his Alaskan wilderness experience with modern society. Abe Hawcly came to Alaska in search of his bush-pilot father, became enraptured with the wilderness, then moved there with his wife to live in a sod igloo and subsist on his hunting skills while he pursued his painting. Soon disenchanted with isolation and hardship, his wife abandoned him, leaving him to rear and educate their three children. Abe's youngest child, known by his Iñupiaq name, Cutuk, grows to manhood and learns to hunt, gaining an intimate knowledge of the frozen tundra. Eventually, Cutuk's brother, Jerry, escapes to Fairbanks, and his sister, Iris, attends college and becomes a teacher. Meanwhile, torn between two cultures, Cutuk chafes under discrimination as a white in the midst of Native Americans; he is deprived of both rights and respect by the locals. He also develops a profound curiosity about the city, but once he makes it to Anchorage, he is bewildered and confused by urban slang and modern mores. His attempts to reconcile himself to his own race fail dismally as he is drawn back to the north and the values inherent in the wilderness ("I shook my head, trying to align the years, the Taco Bells, exit ramps, rabid foxes, and this old pot"). Though Cutuk's gnawing angst occasionally grows tedious, this is a tenderly and often beautifully written first novel. As a revelation of the devastation modern America brings to a natural lifestyle, it's a tour de force and may be the best treatment of the Northwest and its people since Jack London's works.
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