Living With Wildness

An Alaskan Odyssey

Bill Sherwonit

Living With Wildness

Bill Sherwonit

Distributed for University of Alaska Press

232 pages | 6 x 9
Paper $21.95 ISBN: 9781602230149 Published July 2008
In 1974, twenty-four-year-old Bill Sherwonit stepped into a whole new life—deep in the Alaska wild. In this engaging essay collection, Sherwonit now recollects his adventures and trials of his more than thirty years in the Alaska wilderness.
From the streets of Anchorage to wildlife preserves where wolves and bears freely roam, Sherwonit has witnessed the collision of man and nature firsthand in the untamed climes of Alaska.  Living with Wildness constructs a continuum of “wildness” with Sherwonit’s lyrical writings, as he recounts intimate moments with the songbirds fluttering around his home birdfeeder and the halibut on his fishing line, as well as exciting experiences, including his close encounter with a grizzly bear and the breathtaking views of the Northern Lights in the remote North. Sherwonit discusses the cultural idea of the “wild man” and meditates on his own efforts to spiritually connect with nature, noting that “Wilderness is a place. Wildness, on the other hand, is a quality, a state of being.”
A compellingly intimate and mesmerizing narrative, Living with Wildness reveals how we can engage with nature and access the wildness in our own selves.


1. Introduction: Coming Home

2. Anchorage’s Hillside: Living with Wildness

3. Anchorage’s Hillside: Wildness Through the Years and Seasons

4. Connecticut Roots

5. Hunting Anchorage’s Frogs

6. Airport Pond: An Urban Tale of Discovery and Loss

7. Living with Bears

8. Anchorage’s Wild Coastal Fringes

9. Chugach State Park: Wilderness at the Edge of Town

10. Wonders of the Night Sky

11. Going Solo Through Gates of the Arctic

12. Encounters with the Other: Arctic Wolf

13. Encounters with the Other: In the Company of Bears

14. Encounters with the Other: A Gift of Halibut

15. In Search of the Wild Man

16. Epilogue: First Snow

Selected Readings

Review Quotes
Scott Russell Sanders, author of A Private History of Awe
“Bill Sherwonit has added a fine new volume to the literature of place, a literature that may be the most vital and venturesome of any kind being written in America today.”
Kathleen Dean Moore, author of The Pine Island Paradox
“Like one of his winter days in Anchorage, Sherwonit’s book is bright and calm.  Its gifts are a wild landscape of delight and a lesson in attentiveness.”
Andromeda Romano-Lax, author of Searching for Steinbeck’s Sea of Cortez and The Spanish Bow
“In Living with Wildness, Sherwonit employs both a journalist’s skills and a nonspecialist’s sense of humble wonder to deliver a portrait of the wild in its many guises. . . . If next year I take more walks, notice more birds and small mammals, grant my children a little more outdoors freedom, and manage to escape the city in search of darker, star-filled nights, it will be because of Living with Wildness. Just reading it made me feel more connected to the place I call home.”
Sherry Simpson, author of The Way Winter Comes: Alaska Stories
“In this open-hearted inquiry, [Sherwonit] learns what it means to make a home in the complicated landscape that emerges when wilderness and communities push against each other. Sherwonit movingly describes the explorations of the spirit that accompany his outdoor adventures. His discoveries remind us all that the most meaningful journeys begin with the smallest acts of awareness.”
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