Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Book Review: Arctic Son

February 20, 2007

This book had the potential to be rivetting because of its subject matter; unfortunately, Jean Aspen is not a great writer. This is a narrative of 14 months that the author, her husband, and their 6-year-old son spent living in Alaska's interior wilderness. The author always seemed to be whining to me. She often describes herself as brusque, seething and angry. I'd about had enough when she discusses with her husband what she'll do with his body if he were to die in the middle of winter. She seems to always be bossy and irritated. Maybe she is, but I didn't really want to read about that for 300 pages. On top of this, the dialogue is completely stilted and unbelievable, especially when it comes to her six-year-old. (What six year old says "regrouping" is stressful or "I feel like you're hurting me when I'm vulnerable"?) But when she actually writes about Alaska itself, she can be lyrical and display some really good writing. My endorsement: Skip this one unless you have an insatiable desire to live for a year in the Alaskan wilderness. This will cure you. Also, the title is misleading. This has very little to do with her son, although I suspect that the reality of their day-to-day life in interaction and conversation was much different than is portrayed in the book.

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