Reading the North

February 4, 2012 

The Rabbits Could Sing

By Amber Flora Thomas (University of Alaska Press Fairbanks, $14.95)

The blurb: This collection of poems delves deeper into the territory Thomas visited in her prize-winning book "Eye of Water," linking past and present in the far north.

Excerpt: "Reading the Sunday news, another bomb

''has gone off in a Baghdad marketplace,

''we have killed twelve grizzlies

''in Alaska's Interior -- yesterday's caught

"in a pigpen finishing a second sow:

"a tiny morsel to her 1,400 pounds.

"I cradle a red apple in my fist. My dog

"rests her head on my thigh. She too

l"ikes a crisp bite of apple; streams of juice

"burst between my teeth. No mushy flesh

"too long waiting in a grocer's bin.

"No air under the skin or white worm

"squirming out of a black core.

"The thick skin cracks with a cider's maul --

"a good, good bite for which there is never enough,

"and sweet still to suck the pulp. When I have

"gnawed all the way to the core, a seed

"pops from a firm cell and lulls in my mouth.

"I ruffle my dog's sleek brown ears.

"It is a dream I tell myself. I am free, yes,

"and reading the news in August

"and eating a red apple."

Derailed

By Jerry Tanner (Balboa Press, $17.99)

The blurb: This memoir chronicles Tanner's early life, success as co-owner of a Anchorage-based health care firm and his legal battle after being charged with sexual assault.

Excerpt: "The State of Alaska really brought the hammer down hard, hitting me with a bewildering array of charges that was almost too extensive to comprehend. I appeared before Judge Pamela Reichner, the first female Superior Court Judge in the history of Alaska, a conservative stickler and one tough cookie, in the view of my attorneys. I was charged with rape in the first degree, rape in the second degree, first second, third and fourth degree felony assault, serving alcohol to a minor -- the list went on and on. In short, they threw everything but the kitchen sink at me. They demonized me, made me out to be a monster, a true, first class monster.

"I cannot convey in mere words the depth of the feelings of horror and humiliation that came over me as I stood in court and had to listen to the judge read off this seemingly endless litany of allegations so heinous in nature that each one made me shudder and quake, go weak in the knees. Just being accused of such reprehensible things hurt me to the very core of my being, and physically I felt the pain spread from the pit of my stomach to all of my outer extremities. I wanted to lash out loudly in protest, but I managed to keep my head. It is an experience that you simply cannot imagine or comprehend unless you have actually been through it. I could not fully comprehend it even after the judge had finished ticking off the counts, and it did not help when my defense attorney, Hank Tiernan, explained rather cavalierly that this sort of thing was typical of prosecutions in such cases. Thanks a lot."

-- Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News

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