Synopses & Reviews
Nick Jans leads us into his “found” home --- the Eskimo village of Ambler, Alaska, and the vast wilderness around it. In his powerful essays, the rhythms of daily arctic life blend with high adventure --- camping among the wolves, traveling with Inupiat hunters, witnessing the Kobuk River at spring breakup.
The poignancy of a village funeral comes to life, hordes of mosquitoes whine against a tent, a grizzly stands etched against the snow --- just a sampling of the images and events rendered in Jan’s transparent, visual prose. Moments of humor ar offset by haunting insights, and by thoughtful reflections on contemporary Inupiaq culture, making A Place Beyond a book to read and enjoy.
What has always impressed me about Jans’ writing is his modesty and ability to describe scenes aptly without exaggeration…Jans can write about wolves and caribou and ice mostly engagingly, but he is at his best telling of himself and his friends. --- Bill Hunt, We Alaskans
Nick Jans has a lot going for him. I will mention only two. He lived in Northwestern Alaska and understands that part of the country and its people, and he can write. A single word description of his writing is ‘succinct.’ --- Robert DeArmond, Daily Sitka Sentinel
Jans grasps the awesomeness of the land and the smallness of man’s presence there, just as he intends to do. His language is as simple as moss while being as profound as the arctic horizon. Indeed, we are very lucky to have Nick Jans, an Alaskan writer who has learned to express awe and remembers the elders who taught him. Nancy Brown, Peninsula Clarion
"If there is meaning beyond words - well - Nick Jans is a literary guide I urge you to read - as he details the stories of his life among the Inupiat people of Ambler, Alaska. Jans has a way of writing that affords the reader the privilege to envision, imagine, see, smell, hear, taste, feel -- to journey intimately to those places where - for far too many authors - their ability fails to open these mysterious dimensions for our souls to wander, to live, to explore. Jans writing creates a yearning in the reader to return to his work - to immerse oneself into the marvelous milieu that Jans is uniquely gifted to create. A Jans writes, "It's not the death of the elders I mourn. It's what's dying with them and what's taking their place." There is an intimacy to Jans writing that allows you to feel what he is writing about - how he actually feels about the subtleties of his many years of living in Ambler reveal. He possesses an uncanny ability to observe and relay for the reader the human dimension of feeling that many writers simply are unable to accomplish. This book is a song. It's music for the soul. Listen to Jans sing: 'And beneath it all is music - a delicate, liquid shattering, a song of returning, of breathing again after long silence. I should join the others in their celebration, but just now, I want to sit alone, to watch and listen as the winter breaks apart.' Nick Jans is an artist whose literary gifts allow the reader to enjoy dimensions of meaning and sensory stimulation amidst a literary topography that has been characterized as -- 'meaning beyond words,' a place beyond. Enjoy A Place Beyond - Finding Home in Arctic Alaska by Nick Jans. Trust me - you'll fall in love with this book. I did." --BillDahl.com
"One bright morning a dozen years ago, Clarence Wood and I stood on the crest of a birch knoll, looking out over the upper Kobuk valley. Before us, thousands of caribou graved, dark specks trailing off into the blue-white distance. Clarence turned, his eathered Eskimo face split b a wide grin. 'Lots,' he said quietly. 'Lots.' The longer I live here and write, the more I find myself following Clarence's cue --- turning to smpler words, and fewer of them. My hope, in these twenty-eight brief essays about life in the Alaskan arctic, is to find words not big enough, but small enough for a landscape and a place without end."
From the Preface, page 11
About the Author
Nick Jans lives with his wife, Sherrie in Juneau, Alaska.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments - pg 7, Map pg - 8, Preface pg - 11, Grandpa’s Ghost pg -15, Putyuq Always Get pg-21, Thin Water pg – 27, Sometimes Always Never pg 33, Gearhead Heaven pg – 39, One of Us pg – 45, A State of Mind pg – 51, The Only Game pg - 59, Whistle for the Wind pg – 65, The Killing Field pg – 71, The Light Within pg – 77, The Trouble with Wood pg – 83, Mister Rue pg – 89, Coming Home pg – 95, Dollies pg – 103, Beautiful Meat pg – 109, Remembering What They Know pg – 115, The Hardest Season pg- 121, Dumb Head pg - 127, One Leaf pg – 113, I Pick Your Name pg – 141, Wolves Are Listening pg – 147, Traveling with My Eyes pg – 153, Permission pg – 159, The Song of Ice pg – 165, Fourteen Bucks pg – 171, The Quiet Voices pg – 179, This Place pg – 185.