Reading the North

Snap Decisions: My 30 Years as an Alaska News Photographer

By Jim Lavrakas (Far North Press, $19.95)

The blurb: Former Daily News photographer Jim Lavrakas' memoir is a photographic journey from the darkroom to the digital age.


Excerpt: "A grey March evening in Anchorage and I was on the night shift, the only photographer on duty covering the city for the Anchorage Daily News. I had been on the job for just three months at ADN, a newspaper that had narrowly seen its last days in a two-newspaper town. It was a dream come true: I got paid to take pictures.

"I was still amazed that a hobby I started as a twelve-year-old could become a career for me. I had no training as a photojournalist with just a couple classes in college, four years on the campus newspaper, and raw talent. That the Daily News thought that was enough to hire me made me a very lucky man.

"So I did everything I thought a news photographer needed to do to excel, including sleeping with a police scanner next to my bed.

"On March 3, 1981, I was home for lasagna and listening to the scanner at the dinner table when a dispatch made me sit up.

" 'Possible bomb at the Bush Company. Bomb squad called out' "


Toucan Nest: Poems of Costa Rica

By Peggy Shumaker (Red Hen Press, $17.95)

The blurb: The collection of poetry is by the former Alaska Writer Laureate and grew from an eco-arts writing workshop in Costa Rica.


Excerpt: "Meshed garden of wings

"Chrysalis earrings


"Red-black scales

"Too moist yet to fly


"Handspan of tan camo

"Heart slash of Blue Morpho


"Cocoons of one life

"So few days, egg to end"


Forging North: Life on the Alaska Frontier

By G.E. Sherman (G.E. Sherman)

The blurb: With the lure of Alaska gold, Thomas Thornton sets out on a voyage to find fame and fortune but soon finds Alaska had other ideas about his future.


Excerpt: "As he walked up the street away from the dock and into the alley, noise faded and the late afternoon shadows fell around him. Rough lumber shanties lined the alley, shading the final moments of warmth as the sun set. Thomas quickened his pace to beat the impending darkness, worried he would be spending the night on the street.

" 'You There!' a deep voice cried out from behind him. Who would be... the thought formed as he started to turn. In mid-turn a shot rant out. Thomas felt a strange sensation in his shoulder as the impact spun him to the right. Before the sensation changed to searing pain, he collapsed face first in the mud."


Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News