Flight of the Goose is an award-winning novel about an indigenous woman shaman, a draft-dodging bird scientist, and a young Inupiaq hunter caught between traditions.
Their tale, woven from threads of psychological thriller, love story, eco-fiction, science and the metaphysical, is set in a remote village and the wilds of the Alaskan Arctic in a time of great cultural and ecological upheaval.
"The story took my breath away. I wept my way through it, identifying profoundly with both protagonists. (Thomas) has a fine grasp of the complexity of human relations and culture in such a village. She also writes beautifully. A remarkable book altogether."
~Jean L. Briggs,
Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, Memorial University of Newfoundland and author of Never in Anger
"Memorable...One of the best novels of Alaska that I have read. With the author's unerring knowledge of anthropology and social and environmental issues, it could fit any rural Alaskan village."
~ Dorothy Jean Ray, author of A Legacy of Arctic Art, and The Eskimos of Bering Strait 1650-1898
1971, the Alaskan Arctic. "It was a time when much was hidden, before outsiders came on bended knee to learn from the elders. Outsiders came, but it was not to learn from us; it was to change us. There was a war and a university, an oil company and a small village, all run by men. There was a young man who hunted geese to feed his family and another who studied geese to save them. And there was a young woman who flew into the world of spirits to save herself..."
So relates Kayuqtuq Ugungoraseok, "the red fox". An orphan traumatized by her past, she seeks respect in her traditional Inupiat village through the outlawed path of shamanism. Her plan leads to tragedy when she interferes with scientist Leif Trygvesen, who has come to research the effects of oil spills on salt marshes - and evade the draft.
Told from both Kayuqtuq's and Leif's perspectives, Flight of the Gooseis a tale of cultural conflict, spiritual awakening, redemption and love in a time when things were - to use the phrase of an old arctic shaman - "no longer familiar".
Flight of the Goose is recommended in Cultural Survival Quarterly, Shaman's Drum Journal, First Alaskans Magazine, Tundra Drums, Seattle Post Intelligencer and Sacred Hoop Magazine.
It has been studied at North Slope School District, University of Washington, University of Alaska, Boston University, Sterling College, by Sandra Ingerman at Medicine for the Earth - and is read by book clubs worldwide.
Flight of the Goose won first place in several literary contests. See more at www.flightofthegoose.strikingly.com
|Publisher:||Far Eastern Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)|
About the Author
To write Flight of the Goose, she also used her background in ecology and field research on the effects of oil spills on arctic salt marsh.
Thomas has taught at colleges and published poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Although she now lives in Seattle, she returns often to the Far North to visit her ever-growing family and the beautiful land.
Read an Excerpt
"It was a time when much was hidden, before outsiders came on bended knee to
learn the old ways from the elders. Outsiders came, but it was to change
us. There was a war and a university, an oil company and a small village,
all run by men. There was a young man who hunted geese to feed his family and
another who studied geese to save them. And there was a young woman who flew
into the world of spirits to save herself..." So relates Kayuqtuq Ugungoraseok,
"the red fox", as she begins her story of 1971. An orphan traumatized by her
past, she seeks respect in her traditional Alaskan Inupiat village through the
outlawed path of shamanism. Her plan leads to tragedy when she interferes
with scientist Leif Trygvesen, who has come to research the effects of oil
spills on salt marshes - and evade the draft. Told from both Kayuqtuq¹s and
Leif's perspectives, Flight of the Goose is a tale of cultural conflict,
spiritual awakening, redemption and love in a time when things were, to use the
phrase of an old arctic shaman, "no longer familiar".
"The story took my breath away...I wept my way through it, identifying profoundly with both protagonists...All of the characters are thoroughly believable. The author has a fine grasp of the complexity of human relations and culture in such a village...She also writes beautifully. I was caught up from the first page...A remarkable book altogether"
-Jean L. Briggs, Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, Memorial University of Newfoundland and author of "Never in Anger"
What People are Saying About This
"Flight of the Goose immerses us in the magical, but fragile world of the Alaskan Arctic to tell a powerful love story between two people of very different cultures. At once elegiac and adventurous, Thomas portrays the Inupiaq people in their struggle to survive, as well as the beauty of their spiritual kinship with their ancient homeland. This is a very moving and revelatory book; it is a story we must all know before we make any decisions about the Arctic that will forever haunt future generations."
author of "Animal Heart", "Build Me an Ark" and "Living by Water: True Stories of Nature and Spirit"
"A gem...well crafted novel...The reader is transported into a place and time...very much unlike ours...An impressive knowledge of circumpolar shamanism. As we witness the unfolding of the novice's inner world as a healer on a forbidden path, we realize how deep the author's understanding is of a slowly disappearing way of life."
Research Associate, The Foundation for Shamanic Studies, California
"Lesley Thomas has created a dreamlike flow of images and language, impeccably crafted and deeply rooted in an authentic sense of place. I always read first for the music of words, and Flight of the Goose has that, and more. Thomas's first novel brims with promise."
editor of Alaska magazine, author of "The Grizzly Maze" and "The Last Light Breaking"
"An absolutely gripping tale - actually a skillful braiding of tales. I was moved by the characters and their fates as I have not been by a novel in a long time. The telling is masterful, the authenticity palpable, and the writing - its pace, color, tone -is exquisite. A remarkable work.a joy, a big broad deep river of a book, a work of substance and great beauty of both vision and style."
· Alaska Press Women Contest judge, award-winning author of memoir "Half the House"
"Haunting...rich with nuance and ambiguity. The theme of star-crossed lovers is as old as any in the world's storytelling traditions. (Thomas) conjures up a startling new variation in her impressive debut. (She) weaves a strong and complex story (and) conveys authenticity and sympathy. Through it runs an electric current of eroticism. Beyond the strong characters, exotic plot and masterful prose, it challenges our worldview and touches the heart."
"Should be required reading for Congress. Flight of the Goose puts a human face on the much debated issue of oil drilling in Alaska's wilderness. This complex, thought provoking and moving story of the people that live in the far north is a must read for anyone that wants to know more about Alaska than is in the headlines."
Anchorage Daily News columnist and author of "If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name"
"A beautiful and compelling story of Arctic Alaska on the edge of the cultural and environmental upheaval...cuts through sentimental notions of Native culture and Arctic wilderness with a clear and powerful honesty. An extraordinary weave of the complexities of culture, environment, family, and - finally - love. Particularly remarkable is Kayuqtuq's transformation into angutkoq: these passages shimmer like sunlight on sea ice."
author of "The Heart of the Sound: An Alaskan Paradise Found and Nearly Lost "
"Unique and beautiful.An absolutely splendid book. It is a great pleasure for me to 'go' to places such as Flight of the Goose describes, and to 'live' for a time in those environments. Thomas knows her subject very well, and describes it very well, and writes very well, and when all this is put together the result is superb."
author of "Reindeer Moon," "Tribe of Tiger" and "The Hidden Life of Dogs"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
That FLIGHT OF THE GOOSE is a first novel by Lesley Thomas is the first hurdle the reader must overcome, so rich in detail, research, and technical finesse are the over four hundred pages of this fascinating book. What does become obvious with even the first few pages is the fact that here is a writer who can address significant world environment issues while building love stories - between a remarkably real Inupiat girl and a Swedish scientist, between the world of the spirit and the realm of the universe, and between the mysteries of past traditions with those beings longing to preserve the enormous habitat that is transforming before our grieving eyes - stories that intermingle to create a total experience that simply refuses to end with the closing of the final cover. Thomas opens her book with a Prologue and with words like the following the reader is assured the presence of an enriching encounter: 'Let me tell what happened, and don't ask at the end what the message is. Whatever is already in us at birth, we find again in stories. We see it in the face of the moon, in the face of our lover, in our own death, in the flight of the goose.' From this point she unravels the Norn's threadball of time relating the changes that are taking place in Alaska in 1971, mixing the daily arduous charges of living with distant echoes of world events that are reshaping the life of our main character (Gretchen/Kayuqtuq). Taylor builds a blindingly realistic love story between the native, orphaned, shamanistic Kayuqtuq with ornithologist, peace advocate Leif Trygvesen and in creating a fully rounded and metaphorically meaningful relationship Taylor resorts to sharing the story from the vantage of both of these unique souls. From this launching point we learn about Eskimo traits and foods and history and manner of survival in a culture that is being eroded by technologic 'civilization', a series of sidebar stories that Taylor always manages to remain centered and focused while expanding the scope of her immensely interesting and important story. FLIGHT OF THE GOOSE is a novel so rich that deserves to be in the library of everyone who values fine storytelling while simultaneously respecting the threats and conditions of change that are only now being brought to our attention by the environmentalists. To manage to accomplish this service to mankind in as fine a book as this establishes Lesley Taylor as an important author. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
Lesley Thomas grew up in an Inuit-white family in Nome Alaska and uses her intimate knowledge to paint a vivid portrait of the arctic tundra and icy seas around the fictional village, Itiak. Instead of cold and bleak , her landscape teems with life, the people full of intelligence, humor, and courage. Kayuqtuk, the 'Red Fox,'aka Gretchen, a youthful shaman, falls in love with ornithologist, Leif Trygveson, who has come north searching for a flock of endangered Tallin geese. Set in 1971, he is fleeing the Vietnam war. Thomas uses her saga of 'star crossed' lovers to probe burning issues of our day: The role of women, especially Third World women of color, war vs. peace; magic vs. science; oil company greed vs. the traditional ¿and sustainable ¿ society of the Alaska native peoples. Given George W. Bush¿s quest to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the looming threat of global warming, Thomas¿s book could not be more timely.
If you are looking for a tonic for your book club, enjoy an unusual love story, long to be transported to a wild place from the comfort of your chair or ever contemplate soul, myth and redemption ¿give this book a shot. I CONSUMED it. The vivid characters, the Alaskan landscape and the details about village life, field biology and ancient stories played like a film in my head for days. An amazing first novel from a writer who will be launched into flight with this story of wild souls, the earth and the spirit that binds us.
Flight of the Goose is an intimate adventure into the Inuit culture of Alaska. I loved the main character, Gretchen, who shows us the culture from an insider's viewpoint and changes our viewpoint in this process, just as she changes her lover's mindset about this place. Gretchen's struggle to find her place in this culture, and heal herself from her past draws the reader in. For the wonderful story and the insight into a culture most of us know little about, I highly recommend this book.
I had about given up on seeing serious Alaskan fiction again (detective on the wilderness trail is fun, but goes only so far) when all at once we get a stream of solid stories. I hope it becomes a river, a Yukon! Flight of the Goose has everything we used to think a novel must contain--not just rich setting, but plot, conflict, issues, and in-depth characters. Old fashioned? Yes, in the best sense. I like a real story. The era is the troubled 1970s, but unfortunately all the issues are still with us and not just in Alaskan villages. The core is a love story, a man and woman from very different cultures, both of them outsiders in their own cultures. I enjoyed how the story was told from the two points of view, so different, yet both I could really care about, and join in their suffering, mistakes, and courage. The author obviously knew and loved rural Alaskan life in the 1970s, and understands the cultural and ecological issues, but also knows the bigger terrain of the human heart. Don't choose this book for easy airplane reading--you won't be able to close it when you land.
Flight of the Goose is a soul-strengthening novel that reminded me of work by Arundhati Roy and Isabel Allende. It¿s rip-your-heart-out sad, but somehow never depressing, despite the fact that it touches on serious downer issues like racism, child abuse, alcoholism, cultural suppression and pillage of the environment. In the best tradition of literary tragedy, its beauty transcends all. True, you¿re left with agitation and yearning ¿ you want to do something ... anything! ¿ but that¿s not a bad quality in a book. In fact, they should all be so compelling! I intend to read ¿Goose¿ again and again, despite the wounds it inflicts on my complacency. One reason this story soars rather than wallows is that it¿s shot through with so much love. Shimmering in every line is the writer¿s deep affection for the people and land of Alaska, and the unforgettable relationship that develops between the two protagonists despite cultural barriers and psychological damage is another source of life-affirming warmth. Where there¿s love there¿s hope, and where there¿s hope there¿s still a chance for us all to do something, anything! about the things that embody the villain of this piece ¿ exploitative greed and bigotry. I recommend this book to anyone with a brain in their head and a heart in their chest. Read it and weep, then use its power to change yourself and the world for the better.