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Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: Family, Friendships, and Faith in Small-Town Alaska Hardcover – May 18, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Shortly after the publication of her first series of dispatches from "Small-Town Alaska," If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name, obituary writer and Anchorage Daily News columnist Lende got run over by a truck: "The back tire of the new king-cab, three-quarter ton Chevy pickup rolled right over my lap." In this collection of mordant but largely uplifting pieces, Lende recalls that near-fatal bicycle accident, and her slow return to health with the help of doctors, therapists, family, and friends. While considering the big questions of life and death, Lende introduces an eclectic cast of characters from a town of just 2,400, including Wilma Henderson, a "formidable farmwife and Presbyterian elder" who believes in "praying with your feet"; and Fireman Al, officially the volunteer fire department's training officer, but also the guy who responds to nearly every ambulance call. Though Lende indulges occasionally in mindless tangents, her charming style will keep readers attuned to her celebration of love, faith, and healing in a far-flung, tight-knit community.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* While biking downtown, daydreaming about her upcoming tour for If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name (2005), Lende was hit by a truck. Literally. It ran over her torso. So no tour, but the makings of another book, which moves as far beyond the clichés of the hurt-but-heroic personal-triumph genre as Lende’s town, Haines, Alaska, is from . . . well, even Juneau and Anchorage, to say nothing of the world outside. What distinguishes it is Lende’s relationship with her community and her faith, both of which present challenges as well as comforts. Small town Alaskan life ain’t easy. Far too many are lost to alcoholism, weather, violence, and accidents at sea and in the wild. Lende should know: she writes the local paper’s obits. Friendships, family, and natural beauty sustain her and other survivors. As for her faith, it isn’t always easy, either. So few meet in her Episcopal congregation’s borrowed quarters that they have an unpaid vicar rather than a priest. God doesn’t always seem to answer; why, for instance, does Lende’s beloved mother go down to death still fighting, while an Alaskan friend passes away in beatific calm? Sometimes her moral compass seems to roll around rather than point north. Lende writes emotionally but never sentimentally, giving us the best Alaska memoir of late, maybe the best ever. --Patricia Monaghan
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Top Customer Reviews
I read Heather Lende's first book and this second book, back to back having just discovered her writing. I loved both but I thought this book had a bit more depth, more experience, more emotion...but as the one review I DO really agree with states: she writes "emotionally but not sentimentally" - that is an important distinction to me. Emotion is real...sentimentality is often overboard and uncomfortable.
I enjoyed the mingling of stories around a theme, the conclusions drawn, the experience shared.
For the record, I am a 3x married, but now single woman in my late 50's - no children. I am conservative politically. I have a strong and living faith but do not attend any church. Despite all these things, I very much enjoy and have learned from the writings of a woman of my years but a woman who is a mother and grandmother, a liberal!!! and a church goer.
Perspective is a funny thing. My perspective of this book is of a wonderful sharing of one person's experience in a small town in Alaska. I enjoyed it very much and think I will be rereading it many times.
I like her writing style, its like talking to a friend; swapping stories, acknowledging those little “ah ha” moments, and it touches something deep inside—the human experience—the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next. Reading her words can slow down the rush of our busy lives and connect us to something bigger. Very enjoyable, with one icky story about hunting I could have done without, other than that I liked this book. For TV’s Gold Rush fans, her friend John Schnabel and Porcupine Creek are mentioned. 4 stars for this kindle version.
I've been a fan of Lende's work since I discovered her first book If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska in a shop the Spit in Homer, Alaska. She writes in a clear fashion, allowing a reader a new perspective on l "bad breaks and small miracles." Her latest book is Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer, another gem of a book.