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Reading the North

Dirt By David Vann
Ki'ti's Story, 75,000 BC By Bonnye Matthews

Dirt

By David Vann (Harper Collins, $25.99)

The blurb: The Alaska author's latest novel is about 22-year-old Galen, a New Age believer who is prone to manic binges and lives in a kind of isolation with his emotionally dependent mother.

Excerpt: "Galen waited under the fig tree for his mother. He read Siddhartha for the hundredth time, the young Buddha gazing into the river. He felt the enormous presence of the fig tree above him, listened for the no wind, for the stillness. Summer heat pressing down, flattening the earth. Sweat in a film covering most his body, a slick.

"This old house, the trees ancient. The grass, grown long, making his legs itch. But he tried to concentrate. Hear the no wind. Focus on breath. Let the no self go by.

"Galen, his mother called from inside, Galen.

"He breathed more deeply, tried to let his mother go by.

"Oh, there you are, she said. Ready for tea?

"He didn't answer. Focused on his breath, hoped she would go away. But of course he was waiting here for her, waiting for tea."

Ki'ti's Story, 75,000 BC

By Bonnye Matthews (Publication Consultants)

The blurb: Valley resident Bonny Matthews novel is the first book of "Winds of Change," a fictional series about the prehistoric peopling of the Americas.

Excerpt: " 'Why? Wisdom, why?' The old man was shouting while tears of frustration rolled down his wrinkled cheeks to become lost in his beard. 'We're having enough trouble just keeping the People alive without this quick, forced move to only you-know-where! Why are you letting this evil befall us? You could have forestalled this eruption or prevented it altogether. You have the power! There is nothing that justifies the time this is taking! Nothing! Do you no longer care for your People? Why are you cursing us? Ah! Who can understand you?' Wamumur shouted, shaking his fists in the air above his head. His stocky body was filled with tension. White curly hairs on his shoulders and arms glistened in the daylight. He was old at sixty, but he shouldered a backpack as heavy as any man. He was at the end of the line of refugees, with his back toward them. He would never have said those words if anyone could have heard him. It was blasphemy. Wisdom was not to be questioned. He stood there not expecting an answer, lowered his head, and then turned with a shrug and a sigh, wiped his face, and rejoined the line, taking longer strides to catch up."



Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News