Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyIn 15 stories, Alaska looms as a presence that variously is vast and claustrophobic, dangerous and freeing, exhilarating and depressing. A long-time resident frets over and envies a newcomer whose hunger for wild and solitude defies common sense. Elsewhere, an aging hippy tries to woo his estranged daughter with moosemeat pizza and bleached pelican skull knickknacks, but she's a creature of civilization's comforts, committed to Walkman music and double-scoop ice-cream sundaes. Her husband is away drilling for oil and a resentful wife must cope alone with an erupting volcano; a woman leaves the bush for Anchorage and abandons a friend in the process; a miserly recluse wins the lottery; and a thief discovers his girlfriend can kill without remorse. The prose here is pleasantly understated, the tenor of Alaskan existence often is transmitted (``You don't live in a small Alaskan town for the job you can get; you do whatever job you can in order to be able to live in such a place.'') and many descriptions, such as shrimp processing in an Alaskan cannery, are authentically rendered. But hampered by obvious and trite plotting, the collection doesn't rise above merely competent. A commercial fisherman in Alaska, Lord wrote The Compass Inside Ourselves. (Apr.)
Library Journal - Library JournalThe cold, the majesty, the isolation, the escape from a world that is closing in too tightly--it is all here in this haunting collection of short stories set in Alaska. Alaska is known for its characters, and Lord presents quite a variety in these stories of survival. In the title story, a long-time resident watches as a newcomer is overcome by a sense of isolation she is unprepared for. In ``Volcano,'' a woman homesteads alone two weeks of every four while her husband works at oil drilling; though she must contend with fires, storms, and even a volcano erupting during her days alone, her husband cannot appreciate the hardship of her life. A newspaper reporter breaks out of his boring routine in Baltimore to travel to Anchorage for the Iditarod race after interviewing ``The Lady with the Sled Dog.'' As Eric, a wanna-be Alaskan, says in ``Snowblind,'' ``Some of us need Alaska, even if it's only in our minds.'' Lord's stories deserve a wide readership.-- Debbie Tucker, Cin cinnati Tech Coll., Ohio
- Coffee House Press
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What People are Saying About This
Maxine Tumin"Nancy Lord's prose style captures the lonliness and grandeur, the squalor and pathos of life in our northern most state. This is a Baedeker for every arm chair traveler."
John Haines"There are as many ways of responding to Alaska as there are regions on the map and people to live there. Nancy Lord has choosen her place, her inevitable subject, with all its complications -- it's a permanent nature and strangely transitory human effect, its ordinariness as well as its mystery -- and has written about it with a marked matured understanding. We are richer for her work and for her presence among us."
William Kittredte"A generation of wonderful storytellers is coming of age in Alaska. Nancy Lord is one of the best. In Survival she shows herself shelved in a beautiful, complex mirror, yearning for youthful lives in paradise."
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