Hot on the heels of Kantner's "Ordinary Wolves" comes another arctic novel set in an Inupiat Eskimo village in the 70's. "Flight of the Goose: A Story of the Far North" is also written by an Alaskan who grew up in such a village. But author Lesley Thomas packs a different kind of wallop in her coming-of-age story. It is written by a woman from a young Native woman's point of view as she and her family fight to adapt to a swiftly changing world without being lost. Readers hungry for a realistic, literary novel of life in the far North coupled with progressive-to-radical ideas will find it here.
There are guns, dogteams, wild animals, shady villains and dangerous weather, but "Flight of the Goose" is not a stereotypical "man's book". It goes deeply into the human heart, slowly and then violently stripping back the smiling mask of the village to reveal its still raw and unhealed wounds from the past. Chafing against her role in life and her Lutheran father, the protagonist practices the outlawed arts of shamanism (be prepared for a wild, often harrowing spiritual journey). Entering the story from far left is an ecologist studying an endangered goose species and the effects of oil spills on bird habitat. He also is trying to evade the draft (it is during the Vietname War).The shaman and scientist fall into an unlikely affair, complicated by a triangle with a young Inupiaq hunter and the politics of the village. Moving beneath the other themes is their redemptive, erotically charged love story.
The author has an advantage over outside writers of things Alaskan in that her Inupiat family members taught her - and continue to teach - the old traditions. Her details of Inupiaq culture are authentic and earn an enthusiastic nod from Jean Briggs, reknowned anthropologist of Inuit societies and author of Never in Anger. Thomas's training in arctic ecology and field research, and her delight in birds and other wildlife show in her writing. She holds degrees in East Asian Studies and English and taught at the University of Washington for some years.
Flight of the Goose: A Story of the Far North by Lesley Thomas. Available February 13 from Far Eastern Press: P.O. Box 9627 Seattle, WA 98109. 430 pages, 6 X 9 trade paper, ISBN 0967884217. Priced at 19.95. To order contact email@example.com or (206) 985-1159. Go to www.fareasternpress.com for further information about the book and author.