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Alaska’s perch at the geographic corner of civilization isn’t all wilderness and reality TV. There’s a darker side too. Above the 49th parallel some of the nation’s highest rates of alcoholism, suicide, and violent crime can be found. While it can easy to write off or even romanticize these statistics as the product of a lingering Wild West culture, talking with real Alaskans reveals a different story.
Journalist Mary Kudenov set out to find the true stories behind this “end-of-the-road” culture. Through her essays, we meet Alaskans who live outside the common adventurer narrative: a recent graduate of a court-sponsored sobriety program, a long-timer in the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center for women, a slum-landlord’s emancipated teenage daughter, and even a post-rampage spree killer. Her subjects struggle with poverty and middle-class aspirations, education and minimum wage work, God and psychology. The result is a raw and startling collection of direct, ground-level reporting that will leave you deeply moved.
About the Author
Mary Kudenov’s nonfiction has appeared in several literary magazines, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Forth Genre, the Southampton Review, and Chautauqua. She currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Gorgeously written and deeply compassionate without shying away from the sometimes sad, sometimes inspiring, sometimes brutal and sometimes tragic humanity of its subjects, each portrait does its level best to explore, without judgment or condemnation, the oft-ignored truths of systematic class struggles, revolving-door incarceration, and the sheer unfair bad luck that colors so many of these peoples’ lives.” — Daily News-Miner
“This is a book about the other Alaska reality, one of domestic violence, DUI arrests, sexual assault, suicide and always substance abuse. It's written by someone who escaped but still feels tied to this world, even if no longer a part of it. . . . From that loneliness, however, has come this remarkable and remarkably compassionate book. For too many Alaskans, this is an everyday reality. It's good that someone has told a few of their stories.” — Alaska Dispatch News
“Threadbare is a beautiful book, both in style and content. Kudenov’s style allows tough topics to be absorbed in an emotional, memorable way. The rich narrative draws important attention to difficult questions—at what point do victims become the victimizers and how can we react in both compassionate and just ways?—while encouraging the reader to become enveloped in Kudenov’s sensuous prose.” — Communication Booknotes Quarterly