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TraveLit--A blog about travel literature. 

     Even with the best of maps and instruments, we can never fully chart our journeys.

Review: If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska

If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska

By Heather Lende.  Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2005, 282 pp.

 

Haines, Alaska is the focus of Heather Lende's book, and though the town may be small, it abounds in contradictions.

 

The area is so beautiful that John Muir, who visited in 1879, warned young people to stay away from the region because after seeing it, other places would forever disappoint them.  But,says Lende, it is also "isolated, cloudy, and cold."

 

The town is safe, a place where you needn't lock your door.  But life in Haines is also risky—there's no hospital, the small plane you need to take might crash, or you might fall through the not-quite-frozen lake while ice skating and contemplating the region's beauty.

And while this town of around 2400 is clearly a close-knit community, the residents are divided on pretty much everything, which leads to terrible "fights whenever there's a local election or public hearing."

 

Clearly, this is a place likely to inspire different responses.  Indeed, one tour guide reported that in a single day she had "a group who said they couldn't live in Haines for forty-eight minutes or they'd go nuts and another…where everyone wanted to know how to buy land here." Read More 

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