Most of my recent art consumption has been from reading books, so I’ll start there. I read The Seawolf by Jack London. It’s the only non-Alaska book I’ve read by him (unless you count the scenes near Alaska) and the novelty of it kept me reading. Some of it felt like a cliché potboiler, so it’s not for everyone. But the psychological aspects of the villain were interesting. They say every villain is a hero in his own mind, and this character certainly was, so it made me more aware of what people like him must be thinking.
Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Estby Dagg, about the founding of Palmer, Alaska, has a broader appeal. Although it’s a middle grade chapter book, the Depression setting and the unique characters make it interesting for older readers, too. I knew a bit about the history, but enjoyed picking up details and seeing how Terpsichore created the happy home she was longing for. Her love of Laura Ingalls Wilder books reminded me of myself at that age. It’s like a first love, the way a young reader latches on to an author or book series.
I tried some nonfiction, first Deb Vanasse’s Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Klondike Race for Gold. As you can guess from the title, it was a biography of the woman involved in the big strike on the Klondike, but in Vanasse’s hands, it also analyzed the culture clash between the indigenous and white people of the period and much more. It was great food for thought. So was Caitlin Moran’s memoir How to Be a Woman, in a different way. It was funny and insightful, as Moran laid out a modern feminist’s take on our lives. I think all young people today should read this book, to understand why these issues are such a big deal to some of us. (I enjoyed it but warn my G-rated friends to be prepared for some strong language.)
I just started reading C. M. McCoy’s YA fantasy adventure Eerie. I reluctantly put it down to make dinner last night, and hope to get back to it tonight. McCoy creates a believable world, and I want to solve the mystery and see Hailey safe and sound at the end of the book!
In other arts, I also went to the Anchorage Museum last week and checked out the exhibits on the Arctic. What struck me the most was the photographs of Arctic villages and village life. It reminded me that climate change is affecting real people’s lives every day, and they have families and such just like me. It was a good wake-up call that these things matter.
The biggest thing I did since I last wrote an update: I saw Bruce Springsteen in concert. O-M-G. This is something that has been on my bucket list for a long time, and I am so glad I did it. This is the 35th (now 36th?) anniversary of his album The River, and he and the E Street Band play the whole album in the tour (then a bunch of other songs). At one point in the concert, Bruce said, “This album was my coming of age,” and I answered, “Mine too.” The sound, and the lyrics about real life decisions and family and love and what it means to be a grownup really hit me at the time, and still do. His songs showed me the joy and the sadness of life, and how they are often all mixed together. I was in tears a few times, just from hearing it live and feeling the truth of it all over again. I know you’ll never see this, but thank you Bruce. Thanks to you and the rest of the band, I see other views of life, get to know other people I couldn’t any other way. You are a great artist, because that’s what great art does. It makes us think and feel, and you do that beautifully.
May you all find a way to add or keep art in your own life. Let’s make this the year of the arts!