In her debut collection, Melinda Moustakis brings to life a
rough-and-tumble family of Alaskan homesteaders through a series of
linked stories. Born in Alaska herself to a family with a
homesteading legacy, Moustakis examines the near-mythological
accounts of the Alaskan wilderness that are her inheritance and
probes the question of what it means to live up to larger-than-life
expectations for toughness and survival.
The characters in Bear Down, Bear North are
salt-tongued fishermen, fisherwomen, and hunters, scrappy
storytellers who put themselves in the path of
destruction-sometimes a harsh snowstorm, sometimes each other-and
live to tell the tale. While backtrolling for kings on the Kenai
River or filleting the catch of the Halibut Hellion with marvelous
speed, these characters recount the gamble they took that didn't
pay off, or they expound on how not only does Uncle Too-Soon need a
girlfriend, the whole state of Alaska needs a girlfriend. A story
like "The Mannequin at Soldotna" takes snapshots: a doctor tends to
an injured fisherman, a man covets another man's green fishing
lure, a girl is found in the river with a bullet in her head.
Another story offers an easy moment with a difficult mother, when
she reaches out to touch a breaching whale.
This is a book about taking a fishhook in the eye, about
drinking cranberry lick and Jippers and smoking Big-Z cigars. This
is a book about the one good joke, or the one night lit up with
stars, that might get you through the winter.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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