Brian Keenan's fascination with Alaska began as a small boy while reading Jack London's wondrous Call of the Wild. With a head full of questions about its inspiring landscape and a heart informed by his love of desolate and barren places, Brian Keenan sets out for Alaska to discover its four geographical quarters from snowmelt in May to snowfall in September, and en route, finds a land as fantastical as a fairytale but whose vastness has a very peculiar type of allure...
From dog-mushing on a frozen lake beneath the whirling colours of the aurora borealis to camping in a two dollar tent in the tundra of the arctic circle, Brian Keenan seeks out the ultimate wilderness experience and along the way, encounters hard-core survivalists who know what struggle and endurance mean from their daily battle with nature to exist.He discovers that true wilderness is as much a state of mind as it is a place.And ultimately to make Alaska home, one must surrender to the land.
Inspired by boyhood memories of reading Jack London's The Call of the Wild, Keenan (An Evil Cradling) travels from his native Ireland to Alaska with his wife and young sons in this memoir that was first published in the U.K. in 2004. Like most who first experience the wilds of Alaska from the comfort of an armchair, Keenan soon discovers that family travel through the great wilderness is more difficult than his romantic notions had prepared him for. Writing with insight, Keenan is adept at communicating the frigidity of the natural landscape, as well as its sturdy people. He treads carefully among the wildlife and its caretakers, learning about Alaska from a hired guide who allows him entry to events that most travelers are kept far away from. Keenan, with and without his family, drives a dog sled under the night sky, fights "blizzards" of mosquitoes, visits a gold mine and talks to many Alaskan inhabitants who have remained despite the unrelenting climate. Although his writing can get bogged down with repetitive comments on the state's power and elusiveness ("Alaska never stays still long enough for you to get a hold on it"), Keenan's strength is in his respect for Alaska's strong simplicity.