Alaskan Travels: Far-Flung Tales of Love and Adventure Hardcover – April 1, 2012
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“Hoagland has captured the restless adventuresomeness of our frontiersmen, and the riot of nature in its unspoiled glory.” (John Irving)
“The best essayist of my generation.” (John Updike)
“One of the very best writers of his generation.” (Saul Bellow)
“A writer born, a writer obsessed.” (Alfred Kazin)
“Edward Hoagland is a strong, solid writer with a splendid feel for the intricacy, queerness and stubborn pertinacity of life. He is also, so far as i know, the best essayist working in our perishing republic.” (Edward Abbey)
“Alaskan Travels is much more than a travel book. It is the chronicle of a love affair, with a powerful landscape and a powerful woman- a wonderful double portrait.” (Paul Theroux)
“Hoagland's genius is being in touch with both the natural world and his own life... He is that rare animal, an unpedantic essayist, and like his greatest predecessors he has found a way to turn self-consciousness into a fine art.” (Paul Theroux)
“Edward Hoagland is a natural. His essays flow like running water, pure and clear.” (Studs Terkel)
“Literally, we are plunged and immersed in the Yukon or Yemen or Belize and made not only to experience it and hear about it but to absorb and understand it.” (Wallace Stegner)
About the Author
Howard Frank Mosher is the author of ten novels and two memoirs. He has won many awards for his fiction, including Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award, the American Civil Liberties Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Vermont Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, the New England Book Award and, most recently, the 2011 New England Independent Booksellers Association's President's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts. He lives in Vermont.
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It is a fascinating journey that took place in the mid Eighties. Although somewhat dated, the book provides wonderful insight into the Alaska of today. It is well worth the read.
Hoaglund's writing is dense, and frequently "stream of consciousness" in style with long run-on impenetrable sentences. For example: "The bowhead, with two feet of blubber cushioning it against the cold, a handsomely white-napkinned chin underneath a head about a third of its total length, possessed a skull capable of bashing breathing holes in several inches of ice, broad graceful mouth large enough to sieve gargantuan amounts of plankton and krill through those wondrously pliant, but skinny, still baleen plates, five or ten feet long, and two hundred or more on each side - that the whalers sold for dressmakers to whet the lust of city men in the form of bustiers and bustles - was a slow swimmer, surfacing predictably every twenty minutes to breathe, and floated conveniently when killed because of that fat content, which lighted the lamps of Europe." It's as if he doesn't want to buy a period to end a sentence, but he can have all the commas and dashes he wants for free...
In spite of the dense language, there are a few insights, such as "Alaska is a destination created out of anger and quests... where people decide how much wildness they want to have, maybe content with a suburb of Anchorage." Also, "Alaska, crammed with extremes, attracts new citizens with the shifty eyes of folk who may have left their previous residence in a hurry, without unduly bidding goodbye." He also writes about rampant alcoholism, divorces and suicides. It is indeed a land of extremes, which apparently brings out the worst and best in people - but I still want to go there for an extended visit !