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Reading the North

Alaskan Travels: Far-Flung Tales of Love and Adventure By Edward Hoagland
Ted Lambert: The Man Behind the Paintings By Ted Lambert

Alaskan Travels: Far-Flung Tales of Love and Adventure

By Edward Hoagland (Arcade Publishing, $22.95)

The blurb: Native New Yorker Edward Hoagland documented his adventures from the Arctic Ocean to the Kenai Peninsula, the backstreet bars of Anchorage to the Yukon River.

Excerpt: "When the sun rose at nine thirty, we promptly hopped by Super Cub a tad upriver to Sleetmute, the ragamuffin hamlet set where the Holitna River joins the Kuskokwim. At this site Russians established a trading station in 1832, so contact was early. Our seatbelts felt very short because folks are wiry here; and climbing out again, I blinked repeatedly to keep my eyelids from freezing shut; my nose and ears and mouth began to die. But the Indians in this sketchy, defunct traders' hub wore their earflaps and the cap bills on their three-tailed marten hats tied up, as if the temperature seemed pretty mild to them. Axe in hand, dragging a child's sled for his firewood, one gentleman nodded peaceably to us at the steps of the boxy, cramped health clinic, where, with our duffels, backpacks, and sleeping bags, we were going to spend the night. Not the school, because if the gunfire resumed, the clinic should be a neutral spot. Nobody was likely to want to shoot up the same shack where they might need to be carried in on a blanket litter later on."

Hot for Fireman

By Jennifer Bernard (Avon, $5.99)

The blurb: This Homer author's latest romance novel in the Bachelor Firemen series follows Katie Dunn, who's running the family bar with a former fireman working as the new bartender.

Excerpt: "Ryan Blake needed a drink. Preferably somewhere no one would recognize him. Finding such a spot in the sun-blasted town of San Gabriel on a summer afternoon didn't come easy. The town had quaint little crafts shops up the wazoo, but so far he hadn't spotted a single gritty, anonymous hellhole where he could prepare himself for his meeting with Captain Harry Brody.

"Right on cue, he passed Fire Station 1, home of the famous Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel and legendary for the heroics of its captain and crew. Time was, he'd been on the frontlines of those life-saving, death-defying deeds."

Ted Lambert: The Man Behind the Paintings

By Ted Lambert, edited by Lew Freedman (University of Alaska Press Fairbanks, $24.95)

The blurb: Highly regarded artist Ted Lambert disappeared from the remote cabin he was living in at Bristol Bay in 1960. Among the items found in his home was a memoir of his early days in Alaska, published here for the first time.

Excerpt: "Dodging through the crowd thronging in the gangway, I made my way to the end of the wharf where it joined the land. Letting my packsack and bedroll down, I paused to take a glance at the place which through chance rather than purposeful design I had chosen for my Alaska destination.

"It was the time of year when it is neither winter nor spring, but something unmentionable in between. Patches of thawing snow lay amidst puddles of dirty water and mud and water were everywhere, gurgling and gushing from the timbered hillsides, which were still buried in winter-long snow. A dank mist overhung the countryside, and across the bay wreaths of fog trailed down to the water's edge. A thin drizzle, part rain, party snow, fell. There was a sodden listlessness pervading the chill March air that struck to the bone."

Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News