Reading the North

May 19, 2012 

Alaska Quarterly Review, Spring & Summer 2012 Ed. Ronald Spatz

Not Afraid of Life

By Bristol Palin with Nancy French (William Morrow)

The blurb: In this personal memoir, Bristol opens up for the first time, taking readers behind the scenes of her life, the media and political frenzy surrounding her mother's political rise; from becoming a single mother while still a teenager to coping as her relationship with the baby's father crumbled publicly, she offers new insight and understanding of who she is and what she values most.

Excerpt: "Sammy, seeing my parents' look of concern, put her hand on my knee as a signal that she was taking over the proceedings. Then, in one short sentence, my family found out.

" 'Bristol's pregnant.'

" 'You're joking?' Mom said. It was a knee-jerk reaction to a totally dumbfounding statement.

" 'Would I be crying if I was joking?' I said through my tears.

"They were completely and utterly shocked. I figured they'd never talk to me again. I figured I'd have to live in Grandma's basement or find a place with Levi. But instead of shame or blame, they immediately started asking me questions about my future.

" 'Okay,' Mom said. 'Let's figure this out.' "

Alaska Quarterly Review, Spring & Summer 2012

Ed. Ronald Spatz (University of Alaska Anchorage)

The blurb: One of America's premier literary magazines and a source of powerful, new voices, this issue includes poems by 22 poets, five short stories and a feature of 68 photographs by major news photographers titled "Liberty and Justice (for all): A Global Photo Mosaic."

Excerpt: "Cora's had enough of Bruce Willis for one night, and I tag after her as she heads up the aisle. It's the second buddy movie this week she's dragged me out of before the credits even roll. Outside, the desert air hits us like a jet engine's exhaust, and she cuts across the parade ground to stay up wind of the drainage canal. Next Sunday's Oscar Night and my sister's already bitching again about how the post theater never shows any of the important nominees.

"'And you know why we didn't get to see "An Inconvenient Truth"?' she asks, not really interested in my answer.

"The stars are as big and bright as panacea marbles which reminds me that my 'extended metaphor' paper for English is way overdue.

"'Because this man's Army can't handle the truth,' she says."

Ellavut: Our Yup'ik World & Weather, Continuity and Change on the Bering Sea Coast

By Ann Fienup-Riordan and Alice Rearden (University of Washington Press)

The blurb: Collected from 10 years of interviews with elders, "Ellavut" is a broad sampling of ways that the Yup'ik see environmental change as directly related not just to human actions, such as overfishing or burning fossil fuels, but also to human interactions. The elders encourage young people to learn traditional rules and proper behavior -- to act with compassion and restraint -- in order to reverse negative impacts on their world.

Excerpt: "To this day some areas on the tundra are known as pellaanarqellriit or pellatalget, places where people tend to lose their sense of direction. John Phillip explained: 'Bethel is close to Kasigluk and Nunapitchuk, and their lights are almost visible. But many times, those coming up from there get lost and veer north, and some (people) are never found. They say that place between Bethel (and the tundra villages) is a place where one can lose one's sense of direction. And there is a place upriver where people get lost around the trees. That's why they instructed us that if we lose our sense of direction, not to continue but to stop in a place we know."

Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News

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