If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska

If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska

by Heather Lende
3.9 80

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If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska by Heather Lende

Tiny Haines, Alaska, is ninety miles north of Juneau, accessible mainly by water or air—and only when the weather is good. There's no traffic light and no mail delivery; people can vanish without a trace and funerals are a community affair. Heather Lende posts both the obituaries and the social column for her local newspaper. If anyone knows the going-on in this close-knit town—from births to weddings to funerals—she does.

Whether contemplating the mysterious death of eccentric Speedy Joe, who wore nothing but a red union suit and a hat he never took off, not even for a haircut; researching the details of a one-legged lady gold miner's adventurous life; worrying about her son's first goat-hunting expedition; observing the awe-inspiring Chilkat Bald Eagle Festival; or ice skating in the shadow of glacier-studded mountains, Lende's warmhearted style brings us inside her small-town life. We meet her husband, Chip, who owns the local lumber yard; their five children; and a colorful assortment of quirky friends and neighbors, including aging hippies, salty fishermen, native Tlingit Indians, and volunteer undertakers—as well as the moose, eagles, sea lions, and bears with whom they share this wild and perilous land.

Like Bailey White's tales of Southern life or Garrison Keillor's reports from the Midwest, NPR commentator Heather Lende's take on her offbeat Alaskan hometown celebrates life in a dangerous and breathtakingly beautiful place.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781565126565
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 03/29/2006
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 103,896
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Heather Lende has contributed essays and commentary to NPR, the New York Times, and National Geographic Traveler, among other newspapers and magazines, and is a former contributing editor at Woman’s Day. A columnist for the Alaska Dispatch News, she writes obituaries for the Chilkat Valley News and is the author of Find the Good, If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name, and Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs. Her website is www.heatherlende.com.

Table of Contents

Introduction: We Are What We Want to Be, Mostly1
If Things Hadn't Gone Right13
Nedra's Casket25
Everyone Knew Her as Susie37
The Sinking of the Becca Dawn47
Domestic Goddesses59
Who You Callin' Crazy?71
Learning Moments83
Angels All101
Mother Bears115
Peculiar Awe129
Grand Old Dames141
Black Mariah's Lunch Date149
Leaning into the Light157
Just Say "Unknown"171
A Whole Lot of Love183
Mating for Life195
If I Saw You in Heaven209
When Death Didn't Stop for Angie221
Alaskans Dear231
Fire and Ice243
Curtain Call255
I Am Not Resigned267

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A remote American small town and its people—the upstanding citizens, the goofy characters, the fast friends, the avowed enemies—united by their zip code. [A] beautiful, funny, compassionate story....When, now and again, your reading is interrupted by tears, they will be the sweet sort."
—Michael Perry, author of Population: 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time

Customer Reviews

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If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: Comings and Goings in Small-Town Alaska 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 80 reviews.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
On vacation in Alaska, and visiting the tiny town of Haines, I realized some places are just kinder to their local authors. In fact, maybe they're just kinder to everyone-Haines is such a small town that everyone surely knows everyone else. And every store that sells anything sells books by local authors, including Heather Lende's If you lived here, I'd know your name. After seeing that glorious moose gazing out from the cover often enough, I could no longer resist. Heather Lende is an essayist for National Public Radio. She also knows how to clean and smoke fish, how to live off the land, and how to comfort families left behind after tragedy. Besides writing the local paper's events column-Duly Noted-she writes obituaries, and in writing them gets to see beneath the surface of many local lives. Apparently Haines might be the model for Northern Exposure-a TV series I loved long ago and would love to watch again. Moose really might walk down the street, as might bears. Snow and storms might cut communications, locking down boats and helicopters alike. Children might be born without the aid of a hospital, and might survive. Meanwhile insurance (and almost everything else) costs a fortune. Life is simpler and more easily lost in this place. But simplicity takes away the veneer that hides complexity, and Heather Lende's quiet essays reveal a wealth of traditions, beliefs, relationships, religions and political persuasions, all bound together in community by the land. Sometimes, reading this, I wished I could live in Haines. Sometimes I knew I'd never cope. But most of all I'm glad to have had the chance to do more than just walk the street and gaze into shop windows. I'm glad so many stores carried this book; and I'm glad my husband bought it for me so I could carry it home to enjoy Heather Lende's captivating essays and wondrously different life. Disclosure: My husband said it was time I read something just for me, but I thought I'd still write a review anyway.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a perfect summer read! I found it introspective without being too sappy. It's not a gripping page turner, yet it's a perfect light read for vacation. Each chapter is an essay, roughly organized under one main idea. She often has an experience that prompts thinking in other areas, and the essays have a pleasant meandering construction that eventually ties things back to the main idea. The book is about her family, life, and thoughts in this small Alaskan town. I also am a Mom who lives in a very cold, rural area and I felt that if she lived in my neighborhood we'd be friends. She espouses traditional values of home and family, yet through the eyes of a liberal. Very refreshing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My book club chose this book for our April book choice. After thorougly enjoying the book I contacted the author. She responded and did a conference call for our book club. She was such a nice, genuine person. It made me want to read the book again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A small wonderful town our Aunt owned The Record Store.Everything the Author writes has been so fun to read and our own raft trip on the Tat was fantastic leaving from Haines. Thank you for the great story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an entertaining and heartwarming book that gives you a taste of living in a small town in Alaska. I love the author's style of writing! I've shared the book with several of my friends and all have enjoyed it. Highly recommended.
HappyReader-inSLC More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I bought it because I have been reading Heather's stories in Woman's Day Magazine. It is great to read about Alaska and the things going on in her town. I love her writing style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heather Lende and her husband came out to Alaska on their honeymoon and stayed. She writes events and obituaries fir the small weedly newspaper. There are a couple of items from her events column interspersed with living in such a remote place. She talks of her friends and neighbors and the good times and tragedies and everything in between and why they choose to live in Haines Alaska. Moving, inspiring, all the cliches. A don't miss read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This books cover and title caught my eye. We had spent a summer in Alaska camping in many wilderness and some not so wild campgrounds throughout the state. We found it to be fascinating, and I wanted to read more about our 49th state. The book is very well written, and the farther you get into it, the more interesting it gets. While I expected stories of snow, and wildlife, I was unprepared to read that the author's family had gone to an exhibition of Dale Chihuly's glass art. I was surprised to read about the many medical hardships the population of Haines faces. It was startling to realize that summer jobs for your daughters may find them not at Starbucks but on board small fishing boats with a 20 year old captain facing wild seas and dangerous storms.If you want an interesting read, one you'll find hard to put down, read If You LIved Here, I'd Know Your Name.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms. Lende is a wonderful writer, and I enjoyed this book. There are stories of people she's known, slices of life in a small, close-knit community where every one knows just about everyone else. These are people who help one another and live their lives the way they want to, without stepping on other people to get what they want. I have a feeling that this is what life is supposed to be like. I hope Ms. Lende writes another book someday.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't be surprised if you want to travel to Haines, Alaska after you have read this. The author makes life there sound very appealing. Her description of friends and neighbors make them sound like people you would want to know too. Kindness, generousity and survival skills abound in the citizens of this community.
janmt More than 1 year ago
The writer's chapters each cover many subjects which are of great interest to many people, especially those in small towns. Each chapter also has 3 to 4 articles she has written for the newspaper in Haines, Alaska. Anyone who has ever lived in a small town will find these humorous, somewhat mundane comings and goings of the people in the community. A great affirmation of small town America!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Even thought there is a huge emphasis on death, the author treated the subject with such thoughtfulness and spirituality it was not at all morbid. I learned so much about Alaska, the Native culture and people in general from this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Small town living & surviving takes a special type of person. This is a wonderful story that left no douvt in my mind that the author really lives this life. Wonderful story.
avidreader70SE More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading how people in a small community live and work together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ms. Lende tells compelling stories both about the people and the land she loves. There is sadness and loss but also companionship, acceptance, support, lots of work and fun. She makes the enormous work of living in Haines seem well worth the effort. She also provides a great deal of evidence to support the adjective of "quirky" so often applied to Alaskans. She is a very good writer and I enjoyed this book immensely.
Cats505 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! It took me back to my younger days in a small town - somehow they are the same! I sent it to friends who also expressed great satisfaction with it....
Anonymous 10 months ago
Lovely story told with compassion and genuine affection for the author’s remote Alaskan home town.
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Hard life story, funny and sad
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I grew up in Alaska but have not been back in years. This book made me laugh and made me homesick. There is no place like Alaska.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago