Ordinary Wolves

( 12 )

Overview

From the opening pages of Ordinary Wolves, the voice of Cutuk tells a story from America’s last frontier. He lives with his brother, sister, and father, Abe--"our best friend, no dad at all"--in an igloo in remote Alaska. Outside, caribou, bears, moose, and ravens move under frozen pastel skies. A day’s journey away, in the Iñupiaq village, live Cutuk’s adopted family, the Wolfgloves: Enuk, a legendary hunter; his son Melt, savaged by alcohol; Melt’s wife, Janet; and their daughter, Dawna, Eskimo princess and ...
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Ordinary Wolves: A Novel

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Overview

From the opening pages of Ordinary Wolves, the voice of Cutuk tells a story from America’s last frontier. He lives with his brother, sister, and father, Abe--"our best friend, no dad at all"--in an igloo in remote Alaska. Outside, caribou, bears, moose, and ravens move under frozen pastel skies. A day’s journey away, in the Iñupiaq village, live Cutuk’s adopted family, the Wolfgloves: Enuk, a legendary hunter; his son Melt, savaged by alcohol; Melt’s wife, Janet; and their daughter, Dawna, Eskimo princess and carrier of Sears catalog collages and hopes for the future. In the far distance, the grinding machine of America drones onland approaches.
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Editorial Reviews

Mark Kamine
Seth Kantner's first novel, Ordinary Wolves, is a magnificently realized story about a boy's coming-of-age in a difficult, distant place … His novel comes across as smart and authentic. It's hard to imagine a better start.
The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In the small but growing genre of ecological fiction, the great challenge is to balance political and environmental agendas with engrossing storytelling. This riveting first novel sets a new standard, offering a profound and beautiful account of a boy's attempt to reconcile his Alaskan wilderness experience with modern society. Abe Hawcly came to Alaska in search of his bush-pilot father, became enraptured with the wilderness, then moved there with his wife to live in a sod igloo and subsist on his hunting skills while he pursued his painting. Soon disenchanted with isolation and hardship, his wife abandoned him, leaving him to rear and educate their three children. Abe's youngest child, known by his I upiaq name, Cutuk, grows to manhood and learns to hunt, gaining an intimate knowledge of the frozen tundra. Eventually, Cutuk's brother, Jerry, escapes to Fairbanks, and his sister, Iris, attends college and becomes a teacher. Meanwhile, torn between two cultures, Cutuk chafes under discrimination as a white in the midst of Native Americans; he is deprived of both rights and respect by the locals. He also develops a profound curiosity about the city, but once he makes it to Anchorage, he is bewildered and confused by urban slang and modern mores. His attempts to reconcile himself to his own race fail dismally as he is drawn back to the north and the values inherent in the wilderness ("I shook my head, trying to align the years, the Taco Bells, exit ramps, rabid foxes, and this old pot"). Though Cutuk's gnawing angst occasionally grows tedious, this is a tenderly and often beautifully written first novel. As a revelation of the devastation modern America brings to a natural lifestyle, it's a tour de force and may be the best treatment of the Northwest and its people since Jack London's works. Agent. Sydelle Kramer at the Frances Goldin Agency. (May) Forecast: Early buzz-the novel has been selected for Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers Program and highly praised by Barbara Kingsolver ("exotic as a dream, acrid and beautiful and honest as life")-an author tour and BEA appearance should help put Kantner on the map. His own story, which is similar to Cutuk's, makes him an attractive interview prospect. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
This astonishing debut novel follows the formative years of a white boy living in the Northern Alaska tundra among the Eskimos. His father, a former Chicago artist, gives up modern America with its cities, cars, and lawns and moves his family to an isolated igloo in the frozen frontier. Cutuk, born Calvin, through a beautifully fluid but sometimes difficult narrative, describes the exhausting, mundane routine that is the family's daily existence. He does not struggle with a desire for material things as do his older siblings because he does not remember the city. He only wants to be accepted as a native, but is rejected as "white" by the Inuit. He also deals with the fading memory of his mother who took flight, the local natives' embrace of encroaching modern culture, and a painful love affair with the daughter of a respected Eskimo hunter. Cutuk eventually returns to civilization, a misfit in a world where again he does not belong. He is awed by the material things that he never had but grateful for the passionate intimacy he shares with the wilderness. The work is based on the author's own childhood and will evoke comparisons with Jack London's prose. Kantner's observations about man's removal from nature in the modern world could only come from his own experience. Engrossing and rewarding, the book is destined to be a classic, but be aware that the dialect in much of the dialogue (a glossary is included) and the chapters told from the point of view of wolves could be confusing to young readers. Nevertheless it is recommended for all collections. VOYA CODES: 5Q 2P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High,defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2004, Milkweed Editions, 330p.; Glossary., $22. Ages 15 to Adult.
—Kevin Beach
Library Journal
In poetic detail, first novelist Kantner captures the rhythms and textures of life out beyond civilization in northern Alaska. The narrative follows Cutuk Hawcly from the early 1970s, when he is five years old and living in the remote Alaskan outback, through his mid-twenties, as he travels to Anchorage for a brief and disorienting interlude, to his return to the far north. The plot is driven by Cutuk's hunt for a mysteriously vanished old hunter who had presented him with a talisman carved from mammoth ivory and his efforts to establish a relationship with a woman named Dawna, with whom he has been in love since they were children. Cutuk feels himself an outsider, distanced not only from modern civilization but also from his own society as a minority white person in the middle of Inupiak culture. The real depth of the novel is provided in the many scenes of a lone human out on his own in the frozen wilds, hunting caribou, stalking wolves, riding either a dog sled or a "snowgo," and dealing with an icy and forbidding environment that is nevertheless in many ways more amenable than contemporary urban America. Recommended for all collections.-Jim Coan, SUNY Coll. Lib. at Oneonta Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This exciting story of a white boy growing up in a sod igloo in remote northern Alaska challenges any romantic ideas about life on the last American frontier. Cutuk and his older brother and sister are being raised by their father, who has totally rejected modern American society in favor of a culture of self-reliance in the wilderness. Cutuk wants desperately to be accepted by the village Inupiaks, who ridicule and harass him as an outsider. Village life is not a pretty picture with its alcohol abuse, rape, incest, and family violence, but Cutuk cherishes the old ways and respects the elders. His siblings grow up and leave for the cities, and in his early 20s he leaves for Anchorage. He comes to realize that he doesn't fit in there either and finally returns to the village to make a place for himself. The episodic novel has a connecting thread throughout as Cutuk continues to search for an old Eskimo hunter who befriended his family and then disappeared. There is an interesting contrast between the protagonist's preference for the indigenous lifestyle and the Inupiaks' adoption of American fast food, gadgets, and fads. Kantner gives readers many exciting and realistic views of everyday life in the igloo; hunting wolves, caribou, and bear; and traveling by dogsled and snowmobile in the dark northern tundra. A valuable story about a boy trying to find his place in the world.-Penny Stevens, Andover College, Portland, ME Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A first novel, a Milkweed National Fiction Prize winner, offers an unsentimental yet very passionate take on the collision of Eskimo and white culture, as well as the encroachment of materialistic civilization on Alaska's unspoiled wilderness at the end of the 20th century. After his mother flees back to the Lower 40 never to return, Cutuk (Calvin) is raised along with his older sister and brother by his father, Abe, in an igloo in northern Alaska. Abe's attempt to live intimately with nature, with as few civilized distractions as possible, makes him an oddity not only among his educated peers but to the native Inupiaq residents of the nearby village of Takunak, who are happy to accept accouterments of modern life like TVs and snowmobiles. Under his father's tutelage, Cutuk grows up steeped in knowledge of and love for the natural world but also finds himself wanting to fit in with a community. After home-schooling, Cutuk finishes high school in Takunak, where he falls in love with Dawna, the granddaughter of his idol Enuk Wolfglove, who disappeared while hunting wolves. But, in the village, Cutuk feels like a second-class citizen because he's white. As a lonely young man, he decides to explore the city life that has drawn away his siblings. His brother has moved to Fairbanks, while his sister has attended college in Anchorage (though she ends up a teacher in Takunak). While the myriad details, complete with glossary, about surviving in the Alaskan wilderness and the daily village life among the Inupiaq are engrossing, Kantner's description of Anchorage through Cutuk's innocent yet intelligent eyes is equally compelling. After years in the city, Cutuk, with mixed results, returns toTakunak. He eventually finds himself back on the land, alone but with Dawna's future companionship a possibility. A man's novel full of nature lore and the mechanics of hunting and surviving, but also richly poetic and emotionally engrossing. Agent: Sydelle Kramer/Frances Goldin Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781571310477
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions
  • Publication date: 8/9/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 330
  • Sales rank: 342,253
  • Product dimensions: 8.48 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Read an Excerpt

ORDINARY WOLVES

A NOVEL
By SETH KANTNER

MILKWEED EDITIONS

Copyright © 2004 SETH KANTNER
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-57131-044-4


Chapter One

IN THE BAD MOUSE YEAR-two years after magazines claimed a white man hoofed on the moon-Enuk Wolfglove materialized one day in front of our house in the blowing snow and twilight of no-sun winter. His dog team vanished and reappeared in the storm. Abe stood suddenly at the window like a bear catching a scent. "Travelers!" He squeezed out his half-smoked cigarette, flicked it to the workbench, wiped ashy fingers on his sealskin overpants. We kids eyed the cigarette's arc-we could smoke it later, behind the drifts, pretend we were artists like him.

"Poke up the fire?" Abe grinned like an older brother, our best friend, no dad at all. "And hide the vanilla." His head and broad shoulders disappeared as he squirmed into his shedding caribou-calfskin parka. He banged the door to break the caribou-skin stripping loose and jumped into the storm.

Jerry pocketed the cigarette. He glanced up through his eyelashes. "I'll share," he mumbled. Iris and I paced the floorboards, excited about travelers. We were barefoot and red toed. It was getting dark, and stormy, or we'd all have dressed in parkas and hurried outside. Jerry lowered a log into the barrel stove. He got the second log stuck and had to wrench it back out, sparky and smoking. "Goddamn son of a biscuit!" he said, practicing with Abe absent. He was tall and ten-twice my age-and had the good black hair. Also, he remembered cities and cars and lawns, red apples on trees-if that stuff was true. Jerry left the draft open until flames licked the pipe red and smoke leaked out the cracks. He tracked down each spark, wet his finger, and drowned it. He wiped his finger on a log, peered at it, and wet it again. Abe was spanking-strict about fire. That, and no whining.

"It's Enuk Wolfglove!" Iris said. "Only one traveler!" Through the flapping Visqueen window we watched Abe and the man hunching against the wind, chaining the dogs in the willows near our team. Enuk lived west, downriver in Takunak village, but like wind he came off the land each time from a different direction. Iris squinted, myopically counting his dogs. Abe would be too generous, offering too much fish and caribou off our dogfood pile that needed to last until Breakup. Iris felt bad if our dogs got narrow and had to eat their shit. She was eight now, black hair too, and with blue eyes-but they were weak. She had gotten snowblind, the spring before last when she didn't wear her Army goggles on the sled back from the Dog Die Mountains. Someday, Abe meant to mailorder glasses.

I broke a chunk of thin ice off the inside of the window and sucked it. "How come they hitchin' 'em there?" The ice tasted like frozen breath and wet caribou hair.

Jerry peered over our shoulders. "You're talking Village English. Company isn't even off the ice." His voice was tight. People made him nervous. People made all of us nervous, except Iris. Our family lived out on the tundra. Abe had dug a pit, old Eskimo style, and built our igloo out of logs and poles, before I even grew a memory. Eskimos wouldn't live that way anymore, but for some reason we did. The single room was large, sixteen by sixteen, and buried to the eaves in the protective ground. In the back, over our beds, trees reached into the soil on the roof, and in the storms we heard their roots groaning, fighting for their lives out in the wind. Our walls and roof Abe insulated with blocks of pond sod. In the sod, mice and shrews rustled and fought and chewed and built their own homes, siphoning off warmth and mouthfuls of our food and winnowing it down to tiny black shits. Abe had escaped something, roads and rules possibly. Little things didn't bother him; Abe liked his meat dried, cooked, raw, or frozen. He didn't mind fly eggs on it-as long as the tiny maggots weren't moving.

Once we had a mom. She wasn't coming back. That's what Iris said she told Jerry the day she flew away. She had a twelve-string guitar and apparently liked music more than caribou and bears and a moss roof that leaked. She'd left us alone with none of those thousand warm things children with mothers don't count. Abe never talked about it. He never painted it. Her leaving was the back wall of my memory.

Iris scraped at the ice on the window with her fingernails inside her sleeve. Her bony elbows stuck out of her shirt. "They're chaining below the willows so the drifts won't bury his dogs." She flitted away to hang our parkas on pegs over the wood box, push mukluks and clothes tighter into the corners and under our bunks. Caribou hairs clung to all our clothes. She whisked hair and Abe's plane shavings and sawdust into dirt corners with a goose wing.

The north wind swept the open tundra and howled into the spruce on the bank where our sod home was buried in the permafrost. The skylight shuddered. Snow laced over the riverbank. The gray wool of moving snow hid the horizons. Overhead the frozen sky purpled with night, and above the wind and frantic branches clung watery stars. Out under the ice, the wide Kuguruk River flowed past the door, through the arctic part of Alaska that our mail-order schoolbooks called barren icy desert. That shamed me, that quick, throwaway description flung from the far rich East, printed in the black-and-white validation of a textbook. My protests only made Abe shrug.

The homemade Visqueen window shivered and whacked. The men chopped a frozen caribou for the dogs. The dogs ripped the skin off the meat and swallowed chunks. They guarded the skin, pinning it down with their claws. When the last bone and meat crystal was sniffed off the snow, they chewed the hair off the skin, ate the skin. Then they curled up to protect their faces and feet.

We heard the men trudging through the drift, up on the eave, down into the trench to the door. The snow squeaked as Abe shoveled, then pounded on the skin door. "Chop the ice along the bottom! Hear me?" Jerry scrambled for the hatchet. "Now get back!" Torn by wind and muffled by the skins, his voice came in mad. I hid behind the water barrel. Abe and Enuk surged in out of the swirling snow. Ovals of frozen skin and drifted-on ice whitened their faces. I stared, longing for frostbite, the scars of heroes. Abe pulled his hood back and his curly yellow hair sprang out; his turquoise eyes shone above his bearded face. "Windy."

"Alappaa tat wind." Enuk was a few inches shorter than Abe. His wide face was stiff, his goatee iced. The men grinned and shook snow off their parkas and whipped snow off their mukluks. They eased ice off their whiskers. Iris danced barefoot between them, smiling and scooping up snow to throw in the slop bucket. I wished I could move like her, light and smiling. Behind the water barrel I stood on the dirt and the damp mouse turds, excited at having company.

Enuk's gaze swung and pinned me down. "Hi Yellow-Hair! Getting big! How old?" His face was dark and cold-swollen.

Travelers all carried names for me, like the first-class mail. None were the ones I wanted. I inched out beside the blasting stove, my eyes down. "Five." It was hard to look at Enuk-or any traveler-in the eyes after seeing no people for weeks. It was hard to speak and not run and hide again. Enuk's frost-scarred face betrayed mysteries and romantic hard times that drew a five-year-old boy with swollen dreams. He was muscled in the forearms in the way of a skinned wolverine. He didn't eat most store-bought food, except Nabob boysenberry jam. When he was out hunting with his dog team and snowshoes he carried a can of jam. He'd chop it open and-after dried meat, or frozen meat, or cooked meat-around his campfire he'd suck on chips of frozen jam. He also carried his little moosehide pouch. Inside were secrets; once he'd let us hold gold nuggets, lumpy, the diameter of dimes. We handed them back and they disappeared in the folds of leather. The day I turned old I was going to be Enuk. Small discrepancies left footprints in my faith, such as the fact that he was Eskimo and I seemed to be staying naluagmiu. But years lined up ahead, promising time for a cure.

Our last human visitor had been Woodrow Washington, a month before. Woodrow had a mustache and one tooth on the bottom, one on top. They didn't line up. Not near. His closest worldly ties were with the bottle, and that left him narrow and shaky. Though he hunted like everyone, his concentration and shots tended to stray. When he showed up, Jerry always hid the vanilla. Sober, he was nice and extra polite. "Tat Feathers boy, he suicide." Woodrow had brought news and stayed only long enough for warmed-up breakfast coffee. "He use double-barrel, backa their outhouse. You got fifty dollar? I sure need, alright?" Abe gave him the money. Abe leaned on his workbench and rubbed his ears. Harry Feathers was-or had been-a shambling teenager with blinky eyes and acne. He talked to Abe when Abe was snacking our sled dogs in front of Feathers's post office. It seemed as if maybe nobody else listened to Harry.

Woodrow had been disappointing company. We had only what money was in the Hills Bros can, but I blamed him more for not spending the night. And not bringing our first class.

Jerry served boiled caribou pelvis, in the cannibal pot, and pilot crackers, salmon berries, qusrimmaq, and the margarine that travelers had left-without the coloring added. Abe didn't allow something for nothing; yellow dye was poison; the color of food was nothing. We all carried sharp sheath knives forged out of old chisels and files and used them to cut at the fat and meat on the pelvis bone. Afterward, for a while I forgot my shameful blue eyes and yellow hair when Enuk leaned back on the bearskin couch. He hooked his thumb under his chin. His gaze slid away, beyond the leaning logs of the back wall. His pleasant face might have said aarigaa taikuu, but what he did say was, "Tat time it blowing same like tis, up Jesus Crick I kill my dowgs." I wiped my greasy hands on my pants and climbed onto his words as if they were a long team to pull me away to the land of strength and adultness.

He whittled a toothpick out of a splinter of kindling. He let the chips spin into the darkness under the table to mix with the caribou hairs and black mouse turds that carpeted our hewn floorboards. Eskimos weren't like Franklin and Crazy Joe or other naluagmius who occasionally came upriver; Enuk's story was just to fill the night and he wasn't afraid to let silence happen between words. Time was one bend of open water to him and he hunched comfortable on the bank, enjoying what the current carried.

With the stick, Enuk picked his teeth. He had most of his teeth, he said, because he never liked "shigger" or "booze." I didn't know what booze meant and was scared to ask, vaguely convinced it might be something frilly that city women ordered out of the first half of the Sears catalog. I sat on the chopping-block stump and stared up into his face.

Abe threw a log into the stove. Sparks hissed red trails up around his shaggy head and flicked into darkness against the low ceiling poles. The poles around the five-gallon-can safety hung with dust tendrils from past smoke. Smoke and the oily odor of flame spread in the room. Abe filled a kettle, making hot water for tea. Mice and shrews rattled spoons on the kitchen boards.

"Wind blow plen'y hard tat night I get lost. Freeze you gonna like nothing." Enuk nodded at our bellied-in plastic sheeting windows behind his head, white and hard with drifted snow. A dwindling line of black night showed at the top. "My lead dowg, he been bite my dowgs. Al'uv'em tangle in'a willows. I leave 'em, let'um bury. I sleep in ta sled, on qaatchiaq. Tat night I never sleep much."

He chuckled and glared. "You listen, Yellow-Hair? Can't see only nothing too much wind." Enuk's bottom lip was thick and dark and permanently thrust out. I laughed, shy, and slapped my grubby red feet on the cold floor and tried to push out my too-thin lip.

In the corner on Abe's spruce-slab bed, Jerry and Iris lay on his caribou-hide qaatchiaq playing checkers. "Rabies," Jerry murmured. "His story's going to have rabies."

She pinched him. "It's your turn." A shrew ran on the floor. Enuk's black eyes followed it. He picked up the block of kindling and waited. Behind the wood box shrews whistled.

Jerry dragged a moose-antler checker over her pieces. The tops of his were marking-penned black, Iris's red. "'Kay then. King me." They wore corduroy pants. The corduroy ridges were eroded off the knees, thighs, and butts. Iris had two belt loops cinched together with twine to keep her too-big pants up. Abe didn't encourage us to change clothes more than once a month. More than twice a month put a burden on everybody. He wouldn't say no, but the house was low and one room-the only place to get out of the weather for miles-and the faintest disapproval could hang in the air.

The corner posts of Abe's bed were weather-silvered logs, the tops bowled from use as chiseling blocks and ashtrays. Above the foot of his bed, his workbench was messy with empty rifle brass, pieces of antler and bone, rusty bolts, wood chips, and abandoned paintings, the canvas and paper bent and ripped by his chisels and heavy planes. Abe Hawcly was a left-handed artist. He was also our dad. But we kids didn't know to call him anything generic or fatherly, only Abe. Travelers called him that. By the time we realized what normal people did, years had hardened into history. Calling him Dad felt worse than shaking hands.

"Enuk. Here." Abe slid a mug across the uneven boards to the middle of the table. He rubbed his sore knee and sat and rolled himself a cigarette with one hand. "Kids, don't worry about schoolwork tonight." He waved his match out. Two joints of his ring finger had been swallowed by a whaling winch in Barrow. His hands were thick and red, paint dried in the cracks. They carved faces on scraps of firewood and drew whole valleys lurking with animals on cardboard boxes.

"Ah, taikuu." Enuk slurped the scalding tea that would have seared a kid's mouth into mealy blisters. "My dowgs be funny tat night. Lotta growl."

Another night passed in his story.

"How old were you?" My words tumbled away like a fool's gloves bouncing downwind. Blood stung my cheeks. Interrupting seemed worse than pissing your pants in front of the village schoolhouse.

"Hush, Cutuk," Jerry said. Iris giggled and pretended to bite her nails, both hands at once. Abe had a piece of caribou-sinew string in his fingers, and he began pulling loops through loops. A lead dog formed. He turned the wick down on the lamp. Storytelling shadows stretched farther out from the moldy corners. The wind gusted. The door was half buried. I pictured those yellow metal nuggets. Wondered if they were in Enuk's pocket, and how young he'd been when he found the first one.

Enuk sipped.

Continues...


Excerpted from ORDINARY WOLVES by SETH KANTNER Copyright © 2004 by SETH KANTNER. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2013

    Hello

    Will some 1 tell me if dere are arctic wolves in it ^3^ plz reply to ? thank u!!!!!!!!!! -? SORRY I JUST LIKE TO SAY ? LOL THX 4 READING AND RESPONDING IF YO DO SORRY TO BUG HAVE A GREAT DAY!!!!! =]

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2004

    Ordinary Wolves

    Ordinary Wolves is well-written and convincing in its description of a young, sensitive, total outsider trying to find a community he can accept and will take him in. His experiences growing up in a modern subsistence lifestyle in the Arctic also seem authentic from what I know. I liked the way he balanced the scenes of the wolves, representing Nature with the encroachment on them by both White and Inupiaq culture. The protagonist's efforts to understand his unusual family and why on earth his admired father chose this bizarre isolated life in a sod igloo intrigue me--as he seems to become more and more like his father. A lot to cover and hold together, and author manages with great style. But I have problems with the way the Inupiaq village is portrayed, (and I have lived in one near his fictional location) in that he reports it as a young outsider would, coming to 'town' only every other month or so, who misses much of what goes on there, so the village's life and characters show all the bleak side--which seems authentic-- but little of the strengths and virtues that remain. He stereotypes both the Whites and Inupiaqs, with a few eexceptions, as such an outsider would, or shows the people in only one or two roles --like men hunting or drinking-- thus ends up with an unbalanced message. I find the plotting sags too. There are long sections that are quite static, which I can impart to this troubled hero's character, but mor serious is the narrow character development. Really, none of the women are more than shadows except his sister, his brother Jerry the same. The suffering hero and his alter ego father are the only full characters. But this challenging book is definitely worth reading and does help balance the sentimental junk about Native peoples' lives. Just don't let the exotic setting and authentic voice seduce you into thinking this is the 'real' picture of Inupiaq village culture. It is one view. Read some non-fiction on the subject--there is plenty available-- to balance it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2004

    No Ordinary Book

    Two days now, he's made me late for my government job, this Cutuk Kanter. I should be parked in front of the blue Dell glow. Instead I'm lying on my couch under the south window of my suburban Crotch City house, warming in the Arctic Sun, and reading a True story about life in the North. Publisher's Weekly says Cutuk's the best since Jack London, which says a mouthful about Northern fiction. This is not Jack London. Not John McPhee. Not, God fobid, James Michener or Peter Jenkins. This is where Jack Kerouac and Nanook lock eyes and walk away together. Don't expect the whole story. This is the cracks between the logs, the vole holes in the floor, the leaks in the sod, the spiders in the corner, the all encompassing entropy so few escape. The tourism people down in Juneau are not going to like it. It's not the prettied-up Alaska they sell to the Princess herds on the freshly washed buses. This is the other Alaska, the Alaska we live in every day after the tourists have disappeared into the sky, after the Eskimo girls have taken off their fancy quspuqs and dancy mukluks and lit up a joint. If you live in Crotch City and this book makes you mad, good. Only don't be mad at Cutuk. He just wrote it all down. Alaska has never had a book like this before. I wish it was mine.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Good

    It is a good book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

    Darkfang to taylor

    Yiu can tell me. I will listen

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  • Posted May 28, 2011

    brilliant, a must read

    presenting a life few people will ever know, a remarkable and fresh perspective on the dichotomy between the "everything wanters" and people who are living in a dying culture. wrapped up in a compelling story filled with characters so real you remember them long after the end of the story. a singular and spectacular small huge story. i beseech you to read it.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Read

    This is a story of Alaska; the culture of its natives, their struggles, and the life and adventures of a young 'white boy' over a 20 year period.
    It takes place out on the tundra, in the native Alaskan villages, and then advertures on into larger Alaskan cities.

    We read this book in our 'Town Book Group,' and everyone agreed it was one of our better reads: I purchased it as a gift for a friend. It is a wonderful tale with rich charactors, great dialog, and a concise plot line. You'll find the book hard to put down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2007

    Reading this is like watching it happen

    Kantner is perhaps one of the most descriptive writers I've read. His verbal portrayal of character and action visually describes in such a way that the reader becomes part of the audience. An excellent book, one for the 'I'm keeping this one library'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2006

    Intense and moving

    Could not stop reading this wonderful hallmark of a first novel. Bravo!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2005

    Ordinary Wolves

    It is great to have some serious, thoughtful fiction coming out of Alaska, after a deluge of macho adventure: 'The huge wave knocked me to the deck and tore off my life jacket.' To be followed by the Alaskan Detective line which never ends; exotic settings, formula plots. Ordinary Wolves should bring out some serious writers lurking among the icebergs. One I mentioned before, but got the name wrong, is Call of the Goose by Lesley Thomas. Fun to compare their different POVs. Melissa (again).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2004

    Splendid!

    Much to be read between the lines.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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