Reading the north


By Carolyn Kremers (University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks, $14.95)

The blurb: Carolyn Kremers moved to Alaska at 34 to teach in Tununak on the Bering Sea coast, and her book of poems is split into four sections: Tununak, The Interior, Shapeshifting, Return to the Y-K Delta and Fairbanks.

Excerpt: "Annie somersaults on my bed,

crows, in wet socks and a red

"Kool-Aid mustache.

"Her real mother

"has been drinking again,

"Rebecca, her grandmother, says.

"Even the tents are not happy.

"That green mold grows,

"eats canvas.

"Summer of drizzle and fog.

"Sixty splayed salmon rot on the racks.

"Rebecca laughs

"like sunlight, remembers:

"one night last August,

"Digging in the mounds,

"she found an ancient

"ivory comb.

"Only two teeth missing."

Gaining Daylight

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

The blurb: Sara Loewen and her family live in Kodiak, but when May comes around, they pack up and move to Uyak Bay for Salmon season. Her book talks about living on two different islands and the old and new ways of life on each one.

Excerpt: "As the sun rises behind Amook Island, a heavy shadow of mountain slides down the hillside into Uyak Bay. Light slips inside the cabin -- old dog asleep by the wood stove, sourdough starter on the counter, rain-soaked laundry draped over every chair, Peter rushing for the teapot before its whistle wakes the boys. We come here to commercial fish for salmon, spending the summer on Amook, and island the size of Manhattan, population twelve.

"My husband has spent thirty-four seasons at the fish site. Fixing motors and picking nets in rough seas is second nature to Peter, and I envy how comfortable he is in this landscape. I arrived illiterate to winds and boats and setnet fishing. Our young sons have crossed the bay hundreds of times. Already, Liam and Luke are growing into the knowledge that gives Peter an easy confidence in the skiff. "

Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!

By Mitch Seavoy (Ididaride Publishing Co., $14.95)

The blurb: Iditarod champion Mich Seavey's 2008 book offers sled dog racing anecdotes and tips on how to pick and raise puppies to training to picking equipment for the race.

Excerpt: "This book is meant to help you develop a long-distance dog team, and gain an understanding of dogs in general. It's not a "how to win the Iditarod" book. There is a serious lack of good information and a lack of sharing of the available information by those who have it. I want to fill in the gaps so people eager to run sled dogs and get ready to run the Iditarod and other races don't have to guess at everything. Beyond that is the realm of the ultra-competitive and I won't be going into that, at least not now.

I'm writing this for people who want to learn about sled dogs, but I also hope it will bear truth for anyone involved with working dogs. I write about the Iditarod because I think that it's the ultimate race and ultimate test of dogs and musher skill. Besides, long distance mushing is the only thing I know about where dogs are concerned. But I have a hunch that folks working with dogs in other capacities will nod and chuckle a time or two as they recognize their own champions between these covers, albeit not in harness. Shoot, even pet owners might pick up something of value here, but I hope they have a sense of humor!"

Compiled by Chad Walker, Anchorage Daily News