“Now Entering Alaska Time”
I first encountered Ken Waldman when he performed poetry and on the fiddle at my local arts performing center. I was fascinated by his tales of teaching in Alaska and of being a writer and poet.Amazon USA
“Now Entering Alaska Time”
By Ken Waldman
Cyberwit, Copyright 2022
Review by LB Sedlacek
I first encountered Ken Waldman when he performed poetry and on the fiddle at my local arts performing center. I was fascinated by his tales of teaching in Alaska and of being a writer and poet. I’ve been a literary fan ever since! I don’t care much for movie, tv or sports stars – the ones I admire are writers and poets.
This book is Waldman’s 20th. The story about how it came to be published is a fascinating one and he includes it in the introduction. How a book came to be published sometimes is as interesting as the book itself. This book took 24 years after Waldman finished it to be published. It’s impressive that he never gave up on his story.
The book starts off telling the tale of Zan who comes to Alaska after a failed relationship. Waldman artfully weaves the story of his escape to Alaska. His words are liberating. There’s so much to discover.
From Part II: December 21, Juneau:
“But here was the story, done now, or at least almost. She picked up
the pages, riffled through them, read a few sentences. She liked what
she read. But what did she know , a 27-year -old high school teacher
who not only had never written fiction, but didn’t even know anybody
who had. Melinda set the pages down, went to the living room window.”
The second part of the book tells the story of Melinda. You will feel like you are in the places experiencing what the characters see and feel, almost like you are really there.
A line from the book: “to be on paper the way you were in life was a real gift, she
decided” sums it up nicely. I don’t want to give away the character connections by going into too much detail about the other two sections, so that the reader can stay surprised like I was, when you read it.
Waldman is also skilled at using place to define the book. Place can definitely be a character of sorts in any story. I’ve never been to Alaska, but I feel as if I have in these pages, seeing it through the eyes of his characters. He is a born storyteller. The people in this story are about as real as folks might be in a book. It’s almost like you can hear the characters speaking. His writing transcends them beyond the page.
From Part IV: Nome Winter:
“Outside, Zan guessed another inch of snow had fallen, maybe two,
and it was still coming down. He put on his sweater, his coat, turned off
the lights, then exited the building. Snow swirled below him, in front of
him, and in the streetlights above. Once again he was fighting the wind,
this time on Third Street. A four-wheeler zoomed past, a young man
driving, a young girl riding with him, holding tight, her head buried in the
back of his parka. Then a jeep slid by . Head down, Zan crossed
Steadman, and in another two blocks he was turning the knob, thankful
to be out of the wind and cold, inside his own arctic entry.”
Waldman is able to take everyday things that make us human and show us a long view of Alaska life. The characters are remarkable. I didn’t want to put this book down! And now, I’m definitely going to have to visit Alaska.
~LB Sedlacek’s latest poetry book is “Ghost Policy.” She is also the author of the poetry collections “Dead Men Don’t Know Jack,” “This Space Available,” “I’m No ROBOT,” “Simultaneous Submissions,” “Swim,” “Words and Bones,” and “The Poet Next Door.” Her non-fiction books include “The Poet Protection Plan,” “The Traveling Postcard,” “Bridge Ices Before Road,” and “Electric Melt.” Her short story collections are entitled “Four Thieves of Vinegar & Other Short Stories” and “The Jackalope Committee and Other Tales.” www.lbsedlacek.com