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Alaskans: Stories by Tanyo Ravicz

Alaskans: Stories

by Tanyo Ravicz

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Alaskans--Stories from the “Great Land”

My favorite line from “Cossacks” is, “Happiness is grace, it’s bounty. It’s free of charge, it’s given to you. You don’t win it. You don’t earn it. You don’t deserve it. You say yes. You just say yes” (page 139).

There is a flavor of art in the author’s writing. Not art you would see in a museum or in a painting, and not in a sense of painting with words (although Ravicz does a fine job of this as well), but more as “art with a sense of feeling.” Each story is different. Each story is told in another voice from the author from a different period in his life. Had I not known that I was reading from the same book, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to tell who had written the various tales. They are unique. The prose is strong, thought provoking, and colorful.

“A Fox in May” is about a young boy who is thirteen and is stuck between childhood and being a young adult. He takes on the responsibility of raising chickens, from building the coop to feeding and caring for them. Throughout these lessons, he learns to love those chickens and does a great job of raising them. There are so many questions unanswered at this age for a young boy--so many trials to pass to get to the other side of young adulthood without losing the respect from elders. Through nature, he learns about death, and living, and loving, and being a part of the cycle--what it takes to endure--no matter how difficult that can be.

“The Ballad of Robbie Fox” is a story told from someone struggling at the bottom of the pile and trying to claw his way up and out. It is raw, edgy, strong prose that feels like it just came off the streets and into your living room, or like talking to your new best friend at the local bar after tossing a few back. There is a feel to this Robbie Fox, like someone you know, or have known, or maybe it’s even you. There’s a truth from someone’s heart in this . . . it’s the hard kind of truth about life.

All total, there are ten stories told in this book, “Alaskans.” Jimmy Biggs works in a cannery at the age of nineteen in “Fishes and Wine.” Old college buddies get together again after years of being apart in “Cossacks.” You can hike the Alaskan wilderness in “Caribou, Paxson Lake.” And, if you do a Google search you can see how beautiful the Paxson Lake area is.

I really enjoyed all these stories (well, except for one--I’m squeamish about dressing a kill). Tanyo Ravicz is a talented author, and I’m pleased for the opportunity to review this well-written anthology of Alaskan tales. Also, my thanks goes to Review the Book.com for allowing me to review this book. ( )
  Diane.Walters | Mar 21, 2014 |
I've always loved Alaska and have had a deep felt love of the state since I can remember. When I saw Alaskans by Tanyo Ravicz I knew I had to see what it was about. It reminded me of a book I had once read called "Ozark Memories" by Pam Prier, a book I loved & actually read more than once just because of the touching stories involved. Each author seemed to be able to tell a tale of stories about a place that they loved from deep within their hearts and the people who belonged there. Tanyo Ravicz's Alaskans immediately gave me the impression that the author not only knew about Alaska but Alaska was a part of who he was. While Prier's book Ozark Memories was a book of memoirs, Ravicz's book Alaskans was a combination of fiction, reality and memoirs that you knew had to of been based upon someone the author knew during his life in Alaska itself. You could tell the stories were of true Alaskan spirit in contemporary times.

The book is comprised of various short stories, ranging from a few pages to a substantial length for each. Each story has it's own feel, it's own character, it's own magic. Whether you enjoy the "outdoorsiness" of many of the stories or the traditions of some others, you will definitely find a touch of reality within each that sets it apart from the rest. No two stories are the same. You'll find stories of men, boys, women & animal. You'll be touched by traditions, simplicity, complexity and reality. As a matter of fact the variations of each story, each character or each situation keeps you wondering "What could be next" as you move through the book.

I always enjoy books that have a group of stories to read because it allows for breaks. Busy lifestyles often hinder reading and in this case it's so easy to finish a single story in one sitting that you'll find by the end of the book, you have felt like you've read ten different ones. It was always my "take along" book for such time as doctor's appointments and waiting for children to jump into the car when picking them up because I knew I could almost always finish at least one full story and walk away feeling complete. On lucky days, I'd get 2 or 3 stories read in a day!

The variations in plot & characters made the book very easy to read and hard to ever become bored with. One moment you were reading about a young boy slowly learning to become a "man" as he raised chickens and had to make tough decisions against nature, while the next moment you were chuckling along with fire fighters while they raised heck in the "local" bar. No two stories were alike, all were filled with authentic and realistic details that brought just a touch of a whole other world, the "world" of Alaska, into your lap.

If you've ever dreamed of going to, visiting, living in or simply knowing the true Alaska, this book is for you. Filled with great stories & interesting details that only an "insider" could know and you're given the privilege of being "one of them"... an Alaskan. ( )
  hockeygal4ever | Aug 2, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0595447899, Paperback)

Here are ten celebrated stories of contemporary Alaska, afull-color, no-holds-barred portrayal of life in the Great Land. Alaskans paints a series of unforgettable portraits of Alaskans in all walks of life. A firefighter confronts his mixed identity as a wildfire rages; a teenager discovers one of the perils of cannery work; friends hunt for happiness at the top of the world; rivals meet over the grave of the man they loved. Spirited, wide-ranging, by turns tender and blunt, written in a lean and vigorous prose, the selection includes Tanyo Ravicz's classic novella "A Fox in May," in which young Jed Hanson, a boy on the cusp of manhood, becomes immersed in the terrors and beauties of the natural world. "Part of a true literature of Alaska embraces the vast land to include firefighters, fishermen, quirky old-timers, startlingly realNatives, and eager cheechakos, male and female, who bring to this demanding, dream-filled world a memorable energy and a hunger for authenticity. Ravicz's writing whispers, sings, and howls-about colliding passions, unforgiving realities, hard-won success, enduring love, and never-predictable joy. These stories tell lasting truths about our lives."-Jean Anderson, author of In Extremis and Other Alaskan Stories

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:16 -0400)

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