Human Being Songs

Northern Stories

Jean Anderson

Human Being Songs

Jean Anderson

Distributed for University of Alaska Press

136 pages | 1 line drawing | 6 x 9
Paper $15.95 ISBN: 9781602233133 Published February 2017
E-book $7.00 to $15.95 ISBN: 9781602233140 Published February 2017
The public image of Alaska for those who live elsewhere tends to be bound up with the outdoors. But while that’s not necessarily false, it’s a far from complete picture. This collection of stories shows us what we’re missing: set in Alaska’s cities and suburbs, homes and back roads, cars and kitchens and bedrooms, it offers not tales of adventures, but quietly powerful psychological dramas, introspective explorations of the private triumphs and failures of personal life played out in an extraordinary place.
 
Jean Anderson delicately balances the lyrical and the experimental to tell the stories of hardworking Alaskans—teachers, laborers, dental hygienists, artists—worrying over fairness and equity and meaning, falling in and out of love, and pondering elusive, long-dreamed-of goals. Powered by a rich empathy, Human Being Songs shows us life in Alaska as it’s actually lived today—its successes, failures, and moments of transcendent beauty.
Review Quotes
Carole L. Glickfeld, author of SWIMMING TOWARD THE OCEAN
“Stories that brilliantly reveal the inner lives of people we thought we knew, in a northern landscape Anderson skillfully renders as both exotic and familiar.  With compelling narration, she draws us into worlds where women confront their individuality, asking universal questions as they delve into memories, cope with families and widowhood, buoyed and sometimes undone by the power of love.  These are lyrical excursions into the depths of the human heart and psyche.” 
 
Susheila Khera, author of Step by Careful Step
“With a fine eye for detail, Jean Anderson tells stories of ordinary people who become extraordinary as she presents their conflicts and ambitions. Her characters live their daily lives in beautiful Alaska, and Anderson treats them with respect and compassion and imbues each story with great feeling.” 
 
Ann Chandonnet, author of Write Quick: The Life of a Woman in Letters, 1835-1865
Human Being Songs speaks of themes embraced by many other books (fiction and non-fiction) set in Alaska embrace: alcoholism, driving on ice, neglected children, Native American children living in poverty, the homeless, epidemics and the challenges of bad weather that rattles the bones while it rattles the windows dripping with condensation. But it deviates from the usual form of those themes, tales of  wolves and "surviving" in the wilderness, to limn the lives of older women--the women "of a certain age" who are usually shadow characters if they are mentioned at all. . . . ‘My best self is a traveler,’ Anderson writes. And we all agree, many of us wishing we could be Alaskans of long standing too.”

 
Gabrielle Raffuse | Alaska Women Speak
“The stories often read like meditation as their protagonists follow the ‘shifts and curves’ of their own minds, contemplating through circuitous and surprising routes life’s painful perplexities and occasional joys. . . . In all situations, Anderson’s characters love and live fully, searching for truth, while her narrators invite us into protagonists’ minds and experiences as female Northerners making stories, singing the songs of their preoccupations.”
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