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Original Essays | September 17, 2014

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My first novel, Love Me Back, was published on September 16. Writing the book took seven years, and along the way three chapters were published in... Continue »
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Shopping for Porcupine: A Life in Arctic Alaska

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Shopping for Porcupine: A Life in Arctic Alaska Cover

ISBN13: 9781571313010
ISBN10: 157131301x
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Synopsis:

His story begins with the arrival of his father, Howard Kantner, to the remote Arctic of the 1950s and ends with him as a grown man settled in the same landscape. Through a series of moving essays and vivid photographs, ranging in subject from family histories to hunting stories, celebrations of people and places to a lament over a majestic wilderness rapidly disappearing, Shopping for Porcupine provides a compelling, intimate view of Americas last frontier — the same place that captivated so many readers of Ordinary Wolves.

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

beargilbert, July 24, 2008 (view all comments by beargilbert)
Shopping for Porcupine is a beautiful, thought- provoking book that defies genre.
It is more than an autobiography of Seth Kantner, who was born and reared in a tiny, mouse-infested sod igloo on a bluff above the Kobuk River in arctic Alaska. It is also a collection of essays and articles Kanter has published elsewhere. The result is a wonderful story of a boy growing into a man in one of the remotest places on earth, but it is also a glimpse into the lives and society of old-time Alaskans, both native and white, and how the 21st Century is warping the old ways. The book is a passionate statement about an environment in flux and in peril. It is also a love letter to an impossibly beautiful, brutal and unforgiving land.
Kantner’s splendid photographs add greatly to his colorful and sensitive stories about pioneers, trappers, hunters, and the creatures he encounters in the far north. The striking images and Kantner’s own gentle humor and insight seem to soften the often hard realities he writes about.
After reading Kantner’s excellent novel, Ordinary Wolves, and this non-fiction work, Shopping for Porcupine, it became apparent that to call one fiction and the other real is plain silly. Kantner tells the truth in both. Sometimes his truth is hard to take, as when he describes “hunters” who fly onto the remote tundra to slaughter wolves from speeding snowmobiles. Sometimes it is honest and endearing as when Kantner flies with his wife and daughter to a gala event in New York City to receive a prestigious literary award and the best he has to wear are clean jeans and a Banana Republic T-shirt.
Kantner is modest about his own skills and toughness. He is more giving, more complimentary to others. The result is that Seth Kantner is a man you want to know better. A good beginning is to read his books, visit his website. You’ll be glad you did.

--Dave Gilbert, professor emeritus, Linfield College.
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jwilcox, July 22, 2008 (view all comments by jwilcox)
I loved this book! I enjoyed Ordinary Wolves, so I waited very anxiously for Mr. Kantner’s next book. It was well worth the wait! The first thing I did was go through all of the pictures in the book. So THIS was the Alaska Mr, Kantner writes about! Far from the tour buses and sight seeing trains. The pictures themselves told a wonderful story! The written stories were perfect – done in a way that not only entertained me, but made me feel the Alaska Mr. Kantner describes. I felt the cold, I heard the wind and could feel the hide of a bear. I laughed, I cried, I cringed, and at times even envied experiences of a life spent in Alaska’s Wilderness. The Alaska Mr. Kantner writes about is a world fast slipping away – native ways, unmarred land, plentiful animals. I am so grateful that he wrote about a lifestyle – a world – that I would never have had the chance to experience, had it not been for this book. I plan to buy more copies for gifts and would recommend this book to anyone!
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azxak, July 22, 2008 (view all comments by azxak)
Seth Kantner's book, Shopping For Porcupine, is a viscerally real collection of portraits and recollections of life on northwestern Alaska's Kobuk River, from the late 1950's through to the present day. Kantner's folks were 'outsiders' when they settled on the Kobuk, to be followed by many more. Most have moved on, but Seth - who was born in his family's sod iglu - has remained for over 40 years. His dad's connection to the land, the Inuit culture and unfettered subsistance lifestyle rubbed off on Seth, and he has carried on those traditions while coping with the inescapable intrusions of modern Western life.

I especially appreciated the honest and literally wrenching descriptions of the changes in the land, the people, the culture and the climate, that over time serve to remind us of the impermanence of anything in this world. Yet Kantner shows us that not all change is beyond our power to control or at least influence -- although simply living by example is not always enough, and speaking up can be a little like banging a pot to scare a bear away: now he knows where you are. Clearly the conundrum is to decide what change to accept gracefully and what to challenge, vocally and adamantly.

Wilderness living is not for everyone, and can be almost unfathomable if you haven't done it. Hudson Stuck once said, of wilderness travel by dog team, that the greatest gift one man could give another was a trail. With his writing, Seth Kanter breaks trail through the heart of the last half-century of life in northwestern Alaska as only someone who lives the life could do. Those who find it and follow will be infinitely richer for the journey.

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Product Details

ISBN:
9781571313010
Author:
Kantner, Seth
Publisher:
Milkweed Editions
Subject:
PHO023040
Subject:
Subjects & Themes - Landscapes
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
Wilderness areas
Subject:
Regional Subjects - General
Subject:
Authors, American -- 20th century.
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20080631
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
50 color photographs
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.5 x 7 in 19.5 oz

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Photography » General
Biography » General
History and Social Science » Americana » Alaska

Shopping for Porcupine: A Life in Arctic Alaska Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.50 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Milkweed Editions - English 9781571313010 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
His story begins with the arrival of his father, Howard Kantner, to the remote Arctic of the 1950s and ends with him as a grown man settled in the same landscape. Through a series of moving essays and vivid photographs, ranging in subject from family histories to hunting stories, celebrations of people and places to a lament over a majestic wilderness rapidly disappearing, Shopping for Porcupine provides a compelling, intimate view of Americas last frontier — the same place that captivated so many readers of Ordinary Wolves.
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