NORTH OF THE SUN: A Memoir of the Alaskan Wilderness by Fred Hatfield

NORTH OF THE SUN: A Memoir of the Alaskan Wilderness

Email this review


Memoirs of the 80-year-old neophyte author's life spent pioneering Alaska--and guaranteed to make readers wish they'd been there at his side. Graduating from high school at the onset of the Depression, Hatfield saw few opportunities for a young man in his home state of Maine. He soon set out to seek his fortune in the largely uncharted Alaska territory, initially finding work in Seward blasting tunnels in the mountains for a new highway, and then drifting to Dillingham in what appears to have been a rather half-hearted search for gold. The young man's determination to strike it rich was repeatedly waylaid by the overwhelming beauty of the wild lands through which he traveled, wintering in valleys uninhabited by man (but populated with grizzlies, moose, and an unlimited supply of fresh fish) and summering in tiny Dillingham, where he fished for the rapacious Alaskan salmon industry, sold his furs, and occasionally tended bar. A stay in the local hospital introduced him to Ann, a young nurse, and the two set up house the next winter in a remote cabin on the idyllic shore of one of the Tikchik Lakes. Ann immediately fell under the spell of this idyllic valley, where her husband occasionally saw visions and heard voices from countless miles away. After raising several children there, the family reluctantly moved closer to civilization for the sake of the children's education. Eventually, Ann died. After the last of the children left the home, a still grieving Hatfield returned to the crumbled remains of their cabin in the wilderness, where he at last found a kind of peace. An eloquent, heartfelt summing-up of one American life--and a treasure for today's readers in the lower 48.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Birch Lane/Carol