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Tide, Feather, Snow: A Life in Alaskaby Miranda Weiss
Synopses & Reviews
Alaska is a place where know-how is currency and a novice's mistakes can kill you. An extreme landscape in both its beauty and challenges, the state is nicknamed "The Last Frontier" with good reason: Here is a paradoxical landscape where boundaries — between community and isolation, bounty and deprivation, conservation and exploitation — are constantly in flux.
But the state has also always been a place for reinvention, a refuge as much for those desperate to escape something as for those on a quest for something else. In Tide, Feather, Snow, Miranda Weiss, a young woman who grew up landlocked in well-kept East Coast suburbs, moves with her boyfriend to Homer, Alaska, where the days are quartered by the most extreme tides in the country, where the years are marked by seasons of fish, and where locals carry around the knowledge of fish, tides, boats, and weather as ballast. At first, she struggles to make a place for herself in this unfamiliar country. But ultimately, Weiss learns the skills to survive on her own, from setting a fishing net to befriending the locals, from jarring rosehip butter to skinning a sea otter.
Weiss's keenly observed prose introduces readers to the memorable people and peculiar beauty of Alaska's vast landscape and takes us on her personal journey of adventure, physical challenge, and culture clash. In the tradition of John McPhee's Coming into the Country, this elegant and affecting memoir is nature writing at its best.
"In this deeply honest memoir, Weiss reflects on her first seasons living in coastal Alaska, serenely recording the stunning unpredictability of the place and people. Initially moving from Oregon, where she was a fifth-grade science teacher, to the 'halibut capital of the world' in south-central Alaska with her boyfriend, John, a teacher and naturalist, Weiss felt 'adrift and confused' by the new pattern of weather and fish, and the alien behavior of the sea. Securing teaching jobs in the village of Homer, Weiss and John embarked on an exploration of the area, becoming acquainted with the town's early history as a coal outpost, its Natives and throwback community of Old Believers (Russian Orthodox); befriending far-flung neighbors who proved a valuable support network; and trying to make themselves self-sufficient in this unforgiving landscape. They learned to dipnet in the Kenai River (the locals' favorite way to catch enormous quantities of salmon to freeze for the coming winter), lay in supplies and harvest wild foods, kayak across the treacherous Kachemak Bay in summer and ski during the long, dark winters over vast snowy vistas. However, the isolation and forced introspection eventually fractured the couple, and Weiss headed out on her own, to catalogue, in sometimes limpid prose her, romance with the largest state, in the grip of change." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Weiss]....gives us an intimate look into the lives of Alaskans living in small coastal communities....[She] takes us there with her delightful prose style, giving us the feel of the people, the place, and the kind of life that draws nourishment from the land and sea....Highly recommended..." Library Journal
"Tide, Feather, Snow is about the resplendence and subtleties of coastal Alaska, and about one woman's attempt to be fully present in them. Weiss serves as a skilled and poetic witness to a place undergoing incessant change." Anthony Doerr, author of The Shell Collector
Weiss, a young woman who had grown up landlocked in well-kept East Coast suburbs, moves with her boyfriend to Homer, Alaska, where, at first, she struggles to make a place for herself. But ultimately, Weiss accepts the challenges of the land and learns the skills to survive on her own.
About the Author
Miranda Weiss received her MFA from Columbia University. Raised in Maryland, she now lives in Homer, Alaska.
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