Alaskans–Stories from the “Great Land”
My favorite line from “Cossacks” is, “Happiness is grace, it’s bounty. It’s free of charge, it’s given to you. You don’t win it. You don’t earn it. You don’t deserve it. You say yes. You just say yes” (page 139).
There is a flavor of art in the author’s writing. Not art you would see in a museum or in a painting, and not in a sense of painting with words (although Ravicz does a fine job of this as well), but more as “art with a sense of feeling.” Each story is different. Each story is told in another voice from the author from a different period in his life. Had I not known that I was reading from the same book, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to tell who had written the various tales. They are unique. The prose is strong, thought-provoking, and colorful.
“A Fox in May” is about a young boy who is thirteen and is stuck between childhood and being a young adult. He takes on the responsibility of raising chickens, from building the coop to feeding and caring for them. Throughout these lessons, he learns to love those chickens and does a great job of raising them. There are so many questions unanswered at this age for a young boy–so many trials to pass to get to the other side of young adulthood without losing the respect from elders. Through nature, he learns about death, and living, and loving, and being a part of the cycle–what it takes to endure–no matter how difficult that can be.
“The Ballad of Robbie Fox” is a story told from someone struggling at the bottom of the pile and trying to claw his way up and out. It is raw, edgy, strong prose that feels like it just came off the streets and into your living room, or like talking to your new best friend at the local bar after tossing a few back. There is a feel to this Robbie Fox, like someone you know, or have known, or maybe it’s even you. There’s a truth from someone’s heart in this . . . it’s the hard kind of truth about life.
All total, there are ten stories told in this book, “Alaskans.” Jimmy Biggs works in a cannery at the age of nineteen in “Fishes and Wine.” Old college buddies get together again after years of being apart in “Cossacks.” You can hike the Alaskan wilderness in “Caribou, Paxson Lake.” And, if you do a Google search you can see how be
autiful the Paxson Lake area is.
I really enjoyed all these stories (well, except for one–I’m squeamish about dressing a kill). Tanyo Ravicz is a talented author, and I’m pleased for the opportunity to review this well-written anthology of Alaskan tales. Also, my thanks goes to Review the Book.com for allowing me to review this book.