Synopses & Reviews
The editor of a small weekly newspaper in Fairbanks, Alaska, Gus Traynor is an independent spirit whose idealism has survived numerous tests. When big business interests threaten the breathtaking wilderness he cherishes, he joins forces with his best friend an often self-serving developer to take on the forces of progress. Soon, in his determination to preserve the dignity and heritage of his community, Gus is learning more than he has ever imagined about the region's colorful mix of opportunists, dreamers, and artists. But his mission is complicated by the discovery of a young woman's body floating in the river...and by the blossoming of an unexpected love.
"The publisher of a Fairbanks, Alaska, weekly newspaper finds himself tested by matters of love and money in Cole's resolute first novel. Gus Traynor has run the Mercury for 15 years, aided by his fiery sister, Noreen, but these days costs are up and ad sales are down. The paper's difficulties come at a bad time for Gus, a likable and sometimes reluctant gadfly who, after many years of bachelorhood, finds a new reason to fight for his paper's longevity: part-time journalist Gayle Kenneally, a single mother from the native village of Allakeket whose thoughtful, unhurried self-possession capture Gus's attention and ultimately his heart. In Gus, Cole has crafted a sympathetic, winning everyman with a believable mix of pragmatic and contemplative impulses. Cole's attention to an ongoing litany of town issues, on the other hand the debate over a controversial book; a logging bill never come alive, but read instead as a lackluster strategy to ratchet up tension. The novel's characters, and their tentative, fully felt interactions in the service of building friendships and love especially Gus's nervous, endearing, faltering attempts to get closer to Gayle are at the story's heart, and propel it forward with quiet force." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Cole's determination to withhold the easy pleasures of fiction...in favor of workaday inconclusiveness, and the unromantic problems of real life, is admirably mature." Kirkus Reviews
"Most interesting, perhaps, are Gus's quirky friends and colleagues, who include an Irish expatriate poet and a good-natured land developer with a morbid fascination with heavy machinery." Library Journal
"Marjorie Kowalski Cole writes about community, politics and the tension between conservation and development....The result is a book about strength of the land and in our lives." Oregonian
"Inspired by Cole's characters, we might find ourselves more forgiving of our individual flaws and less ready to embrace the collective ways we alter the landscape of which we are a part." Cleveland Plain Dealer
A powerful portrayal of a small community in Alaska, faced by the oppressive and opportunistic wave of big business, describes how one man, a local newspaper editor, steps up to fight for the natural environment and town that he loves. Reprint. 10,000 first printing.
The winner of Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize follows the fate of an Alaskan newspaper editor as he fights for the natural environment against big business.
About the Author
Marjorie Kowalski Cole's poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous journals, including Chattahoochee Review and Alaska Quarterly Review. Her essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, American Poetry Review, and Poets & Writers. She lives in Ester, Alaska, with her husband, Pat Lambert.