Shopping for Porcupine
Growing up in the Arctic, pragmatic, simple questions had useful answers. And frostbite was a way of life. In Shopping for Porcupine, Seth Kantner returns to the setting of his debut novel, Ordinary Wolves, with a fascinating account of life on North America’s last frontier.
In these essays and photographs, Kantner chronicles the “by-hand times so recently passed,” watching through the lens of his life the transformation of the Arctic as mainstream America moves relentlessly north. His story begins with the arrival of his father, Howard Kantner, to this world in the 1950s and ends with Kantner, a grown man, settled in the same landscape. “My memory begins under snow,” he writes, recalling his early and longstanding respect for the old Iñupiaq ways, cold nights on caribou hides, swimming in the ice floes for wounded waterfowl, and fur-clad travelers stopping with their dog teams for visits.
Bracing and humorous, perceptive and profoundly illuminating, this extraordinary collection offers an ode to respect—that oft-forsaken, unromantic quality—for the land, for animals, and for “something as virtuous as gathering food.”
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Praise and Prizes
“Full of stunning images, and only some of them are in the photos. Others are in the narrative accounts of traditions colliding, subsistences overlapping, dilemmas mounting. It’s all quite unforgettable.”
“Seth Kantner’s pull-no-punches, head-on stories are raw, beautiful, and unnerving.”
“Seth Kantner describes the tundra’s immensity and timelessness so completely that you imagine you could look out across it and see mammoth.”
“Searing honesty, lyric style, and raw emotional power. In Ordinary Wolves, you glimpsed Seth Kantner’s life between the words. Here you meet it head-on.”
“Suspense and heartache are matched by wry humor and outrage, and all is infused with Seth Kantner’s humility and deep respect for the wild. Crafted with the precision and nerve acquired by living off the land, this is a powerful and important book of remembrance, protest, and warning.”
“Inspiring stories of an upbringing in the frosty wilderness . . . A majestic, frozen backdrop beautifully thawed by human life.”
“A lovely memoir. Seth Kantner documents the wisdom of the disappearing Inuit culture his dad revered, and locates its place in modern life. With a sensitive, graceful voice and his own stunning color images, Kantner proves an appealing and talented artist.”