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Correcting the Landscape: A Novel Hardcover – January 3, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First edition (January 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006078606X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060786069
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,845,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Not many first novels win prizes, but this one won the 2004 Bellwether Prize for Fiction, founded by Barbara Kingsolver. The novel takes place in Fairbanks, Alaska, and centers around Gus Traynor, editor of the Mercury, a small weekly newspaper. When Gus'idealism goes against big business and "the forces of progress," the paper begins to lose its revenue. At the same time he is struggling to save his paper, Gus realizes that he may be falling in love with Gayle, an Athabascan woman interning at the Mercury. As he becomes more involved in her life, his eyes are opened to a completely different side of the community. In a surprising and wonderful climax, Gus makes a decision that could cause him to lose everything or gain it. Cole's style is subtle but engrossing. She paints the background of her story vividly and populates it with quirky but likable characters. The reader hardly notices that she is making a very strong statement about preserving the land and its people. It is quite a debut. Elizabeth Dickie
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Anderson on May 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A quiet novel with insightful observations about newspaper writing (" its very nature spins deceit, because...the need for coherent narrative threatens to dictate the next detail, and the next. There's so much left out.") and the conflicts publishers face ("I felt like the servant of two masters...truth and solvency"), but the story is hampered by too much intellectuallizing over actions, especially prior to a climax involving a bulldozer. Good portrait of contemporary Fairbanks, Alaska and its problems. Not a riveting read, but would make good supplemental reading for a journalism class on environmental reporting ("For every young man or woman willing to bend herself over a desk and analyze interviews with biologists, Fish & Game spokesmen, subsistence hunters, environmentalists and big game guides, willing to study wild animal populations enough to understand the terms for herself, for every seeker after truth of that caliber, there are twenty writers handing me columns that claim Alaska's wolf-control program is a 'war on wolves' or that those opposed to it are 'emotional animal-lovers from Outside.' I was coming to hate all this froth...But an informed opinion, expressed in an original, crafted and once in a while compound sentence? To me that's Chopin.")
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. Martin on August 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
Correcting the Landscape
By Marjorie Kowalski Cole
HarperCollins Publishers

Staff Writer

Fairbanks is a city that has "beat the odds," as News-Miner columnist Dermot Cole says. It has survived numerous "boom and bust" cycles--gold, military, the oil pipeline. And the most recent "bust" came in 1979, when world-wide oil prices plummeted. The gravy train, as people are wont to say, was derailed.
Marjorie Kowalski Cole's book, "Correcting the Landscape," is set in 1985, during this dark time in Fairbanks' history. Cole introduces us to Gus Traynor, the owner/editor of the Fairbanks Mercury, a small weekly newspaper. Like most shoestring publications, Gus has a bare minimum of employees: his sister, Noreen, "chief reporter, supply officer and adviser;" Gayle Keanneally, a University of Alaska Fairbanks journalism student who sells ads, takes photos and reports; Felix Heaven, an Irish immigrant (probably illegal) with a penchant for poetry and a willingness to work cheaply; and various stringers as needed.
Finances are always a problem, but Gus, with training in journalism, a stint on the trans-Alaska pipeline and political experience, is living a dream, willing to suffer uneven paychecks for the promise of the future payouts.
The book opens with a mystery of sorts--a resident looks out her window one morning and sees the grove of trees that graced the bank of the river across from her home is gone.
"Across the river the mixed spruce-birch forest had disappeared, chewed up by heavy machinery. Chopped and splintered wood covered the ground. She looked over a sheared wasteland to the George Parks Highway."
She calls her friend Gus about this "revision to her landscape," and he and Gayle go to take a look.
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