Reading the North

Gaining Daylight: Life on Two Islands

By Sarah Loewen, University of Alaska Press ($15.95)

The blurb: Living off the land becomes a reality each summer as Loewen and her family settle into a remote cabin on Kodiak Island's Uyak Bay for salmon season. Richly descriptive writing draws readers into this world, sharing the rewards of subsistence living and the peace brought by miles of crisp solitude.

Excerpt: "Now they've paved the road as far as the rocket launch site, and there are enormous houses in Pasagshak, where there used to be just one-room cabins. Pasagshak felt much farther away when I was a kid. That's the thing about moving back to the town you grew up in. Every place you go holds stories, new memories are layered over the old.

"It makes me envy friends who have come here form other places, who fell in love with Kodiak and decided to stay. Memory adds a wistful significance to sounds and smells and certain slants of light. Golden crown sparrows will always sing of summers home from college, the taste of canned beer, and kissing and bonfires. It's surprising sometimes to notice that we are growing older in this place where for so long we were young."

Tickle Me

By Monica Bouvier, Outskirts Press ($23.95)

The blurb: Anchorage author Bouvier pens a romance of wanton love, decadent seduction and dangerous liaisons, much of it told in an exchange of emails. Meek Alice is convinced that she's fated to go through life without love -- until she meets a mysterious admirer online.

Excerpt: "In all of your writing, you've never asked to see my picture, so I don't know what kind of image you have of me. So before things go too far, and someone gets hurt, namely me, I need you to know the truth. ... I've attached a picture that my friend, Patty, took of me earlier this year. If I'm not physically what you're looking for, I will understand. ... I know who I am and I know what I look like. Sometimes life has a plan of its own, and I'm all too familiar with its unfair twists and unjust turns. Sincerely, Alice. P.S. If this is my last letter, I wish you the very best.

Doyle Flynn's Alaskan Environmental Crime Story

By Roany Phelan (Author House)

The blurb: Flynn, disbarred Alaska environmental lawyer, undertakes an investigation that leads him from Anchorage to Taiwan in search of redemption in a novel that is both a crime story and an existential journey.

Exerpt: "O'Shaughnessy took a drag from his cigarette and inhaled deeply before responding, as if Doyle's question had inspired serious deliberation. One of the things Doyle enjoyed about O'Shaughnessy was that the private investigator had a flair for the dramatic. Doyle had always found that amusing, although it did not diminish in any way his respect for O'Shaughnessy. When O'Shaughnessy finally spoke he said: 'Doyle, I don't think it would be a problem at all to find your man Dwayne A. Crystal.' O'Shaughnessy took another draw from his cigarette. He followed it with a sip of beer. Then he continued.

" 'The only problem is that this afternoon and into late tonight I'm going to be tied up with a surveillance job.'"

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.