Marguerite Gavin gives this book a fantastic narration. She doesn’t attempt to replicate the way Dana Stabenow probably hears Kate Shugak’s ruined voice in her head, doesn’t attempt to constantly “do” ruined, for which I was grateful for the five and a half hours of the book. I’m sure it’s a good read, but it’s a great listen.
This takes place in a part of the world I’m just not that familiar with, that weird and wonderful great state of Alaska. I’ll admit it – I think my only real “experience” of it is from “Northern Exposure” and [book:To Start a Fire]. It’s someplace I think I’d have liked to go – but, after listening to this (and from what little else I know), I don’t think I’d be very welcome.
It was a little startling to hear the contempt that goes into some characters’ discussion of “greenies”… I am so enveloped in “save the planet or we die – duh” that it’s … truly weird to read about this alien mindset, valuing money – and, yes, I understand, jobs, but primarily money – far above the idea that … well, if you cut down all the trees, it will be hard to still be cutting down trees in five years, because … they will all have been cut down. Even just the simple enjoyment of the beauty of nature – meh. Let’s go for a lunar landscape – people like the moon.
Great sense of humor which for some reason I didn’t expect – Bobby is a terrific character, funny without being comic relief. And the fact that a lot of the book is funny doesn’t mean that the rest of it isn’t heartbreaking. From the general poverty and misery of so many and rampant alcoholism, to the very specific pain of Kate with her trauma (physical and in memory), the disappearances she’s investigating, to the wounded yearling moose being chewed on alive by a wolverine.
I enjoyed listening to the cadences of the names. Chick Noyukpuk, the Billiken Bullet; the Kanuyaq River; Niniltna; etc. And the other names – the Lost Chance Creek, the Lost Wife Mine, Squaw Candy Creek…. It all adds to the atmosphere.
Mutt’s awesome and I want one.