Way Out Here: Modern Life in Ice-Age Alaska

Richard Leo, Author
Richard Leo, Author Sasquatch Books $14.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-57061-061-5
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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Living in the Alaska wilds where survival equals foresight. Leo clearly has absorbed essential lessons from that powerful terrain. After 15 years with his three boys and a dozen dogs in gargantuan Susitna Valley, he concludes that the real frontier ""is found not in the individual's interaction with wilderness, but in community."" He finds that the isolation of life with a six-mile driveway to his solar-paneled cabin is solved with self-reliance: oil lamps, wood stoves, canine ""garbage disposals,"" brooms and manually sharpened knives. But this follow up to Leo's well-received Edges of the Earth goes beyond practicalities to observations of Zen simplicities and the life of the mind. His interaction with community comes with 920 people scattered in the huge valley, 250 in his nearest town of Trapper Creek. His sled dogs become his touchstone to the nonhuman world and he talks to them daily--""I only talk to my mother once a week."" His fascinating chapter on dogs reveals the intimacy he shares with their ultimate wilderness as they wolf-howl among their own pack. In winter, Leo uses the dogs to trek a full day to the post office. Immersion in long distances intensifies perspectives and the power of intuition, demanding control over fears (more people have been killed by domestic dogs in Alaska since 1975 than by bears since 1906). Leo concludes in his evocative memoir that hope for a peaceful heart has little to do with wild Alaska, Tibetan caves or corporate suites but ""in the way we see where we are."" (Apr.)
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