Read Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner Online


In the tradition of Jack London, Seth Kantner presents an Alaska far removed from majestic clichés of exotic travelogues and picture postcards. Kantner’s vivid and poetic prose lets readers experience Cutuk Hawcly’s life on the Alaskan plains through the character’s own words — feeling the pliers pinch of cold and hunkering in an igloo in blinding blizzards. Always in CutuIn the tradition of Jack London, Seth Kantner presents an Alaska far removed from majestic clichés of exotic travelogues and picture postcards. Kantner’s vivid and poetic prose lets readers experience Cutuk Hawcly’s life on the Alaskan plains through the character’s own words — feeling the pliers pinch of cold and hunkering in an igloo in blinding blizzards. Always in Cutuk’s mind are his father Ab,; the legendary hunter Enuk Wolfglove, and the wolves — all living out lives on the unforgiving tundra. Jeered and pummeled by native children because he is white, Cutuk becomes a marginal participant in village life, caught between cultures. After an accident for which he is responsible, he faces a decision that could radically change his life. Like his young hero, Seth Kantner grew up in a sod igloo in the Alaska, and his experiences of wearing mukluks before they were fashionable, eating boiled caribou pelvis, and communing with the native tribes add depth and power to this acclaimed narrative....

Title : Ordinary Wolves
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781571310477
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 344 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Ordinary Wolves Reviews

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2019-03-23 12:42

    Onvan : Ordinary Wolves - Nevisande : Seth Kantner - ISBN : 1571310479 - ISBN13 : 9781571310477 - Dar 344 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2004

  • J.K. Grice
    2019-04-10 12:39

    ORDINARY WOLVES is simply one of the best books I have ever read. I need to read it again. Absolutely brilliant and highly recommended.

  • Jen
    2019-04-07 10:40

    OK, hang on... stop reading this review. Go to your "to read" shelf. Add this book. To the top of the list. Do it now. Got it on there? OK..... now I can tell you about it. This book is going to stay with me for a long time. This kind of writing is really like a gift. When you come across a book like this you just never want to be done reading it because it's just such a sheer pleasure to read such fine writing. Seth Katner creates dialogues and descriptions that instantly place you in the landscape. After having read a couple of books that made me wince at every other sentence as I noticed authors blatantly trying to trick me into sinking into their story, Ordinary Wolves was quite simply a relief and a delight to read because I sunk into the story as soon as I started reading, and I loved escaping completely into this world as I read along each night. This is a coming of age story that follows Cutuk, a white boy growing up with his sister and his single dad in an igloo on the Alaskan tundra. Not quite native, but not quite white, Cutuk struggles to fit in in various social settings while lingering on the sidelines, subconsciously trying to flatten his nose at every moment. In tandem with the human storylines, we also follow developments in the natural landscape throughout the narrative. You'll clearly picture the purple sky, the black icy water at spring breakup and the endless snow, and you'll wince as you hear the sound of "snowgos" (greatest nickname ever for a snowmobile) tearing across the landscape and leaving permanent marks of change. To me the mark of any great book is the feeling of wanting to turn back to page 1 and start all over again upon finishing. Ordinary Wolves is on my re-read list already. Read it.

  • Ruthie
    2019-04-18 10:40

    This was a great read. Cutak and his family are living as natives in Alaska, but they are White, from Chicago, and therefore they face ridicule and serious discrimination. Their father, an artist, has them living off the land in a sod dwelling, and their mother has long fled back to the States. Their way of living is very outdated compared to the Indigenous children they encounter in town on infrequent visits, and they are mocked, bullied and worse because of this and their being White. It was very interesting because when I began reading it felt like the story was set a century earlier than it was, and that realization illustrated the oddness of this family's lifestyle. When Cutak heads for the city he faces true culture shock and is very much adrift in modern society. He struggles to figure out where he "belongs". As a reader I feared for him, he is so naive and vulnerable. The scenes involving hunting and the use of sled dogs were quite disturbing to me. I had always read/learned that the Indigenous peoples were very respectful of the animals who "sacrificed their lives" to feed them. Here it seems that modern methods of killing animals, including long range rifles, snowmobiles and helicopters, has made that "old-fashioned" way disappear. They kill for pelts, they kill violently and indiscriminately. The treatment of the sled dogs is horrific and disgusting. The rampant use of drugs and any possible version of alcohol is described and it is not pretty, as is the sexual violence towards women. All that being said it was a moving story, well written and very thought provoking!

  • Alexandra.west
    2019-04-11 11:41

    This book is a stunningly honest and unsentimental look at contemporary life in Alaska. The book touches on big issues (racism, loss of wilderness, alcoholism), but it is fundamentally a coming of age story (semi-autobiographical, I think) about a white boy whose father drops out of the mainstream to raise his three children in a sod igloo in a remote part of Alaska. It is beautifully written, and will stay with you for a long time.

  • Molly Eness
    2019-04-11 15:25

    I think this is the most realistic, romantic and unromantic depiction of Alaska that I have ever read.

  • Jessi
    2019-03-21 10:13

    Ordinary Wolves is about a young blond boy,Cutuk who is growing up in the Alaskan wilderness. I found it a bit hard to get into the narrative but other then that this was a great read. Cutuk lives with his dad, brother and sister in an igloo in the forest, dirt floors,dirt walls and no other people except for the odd hunter passing by. In the beginning Cutuk is only five and everything has the sparkle a five year old puts on things, which I found so endearing ,it also makes it interesting to see how his thinking evolves as Cutuk grows older and into an adult. Its a good story but I think what worked for me was this one covered a couple of my interests . I like to read about winter and cold. I live in Canada and snow is a part of life in the winter(like 7 months of the year) and why complain about something I can do nothing about. Right? This is not really true I complain about EVERYTHING, but snow I have a soft spot for.So I like snowmenSnow leopardsJon SnowI like snow and I LOVE wolves . I adore anything about them, I watch my David Attenborough Wolf special like it's prozac. Wolves make me happy. In this story they are wild and beautiful beasts. One of my favourite lines in this book is when Enuk, a hunter and friend of the family, whom Cutuk idolizes from the start, is asked if he likes wolves? Enuk answers"They got family. Smart. Careful. I like'em best then all'a animal" Perfect. Yes this is what I am talking about, mind you the romance of living in Alaska among the wolves ended about the the third paragraph of the first page, it was around the "dirt walls and dirt floors" bit and lack of indoor plumbing. I will stick with my wolf DVD thanks .

  • Debbi
    2019-03-31 11:32

    This is a remarkable book. The Alaska Kantner explores is not the quirky Alaska of Northern Exposure fame. It is a book that almost reads as memoir, a picture of a place stripped clean of all the ideas outsiders have of the wilderness. As I sloughed through the first section I thought I would barely survive. The descriptions of animal hunts, the lives of dogs and the extreme living conditions of the young narrator were almost too vivid. The next two sections, however, created a different perspective. The novel became a study of what it feels like to be displaced. The idea of displacement is examined through the eyes of the white male narrator, his sister, who is educated and comes back to teach, the Eskimos, the Alaskan city dwellers and the wolves.The language is beautiful and authentic. The author manages to convince the reader that Alaska is both unbelievably brutal and magical in equal measure. I give it 4 stars rather than 5 because, as I said, some of the descriptions are not for the faint of heart(or stomach). I highly recommend this book as a study of place and our connection to home.

  • Laura Avellaneda-Cruz
    2019-04-20 14:26

    "White people--everything talked to pieces until all the pieces had numbers. 'I get wolves,' Enuk would have said, 'back by mountains.' It would have been someone else's duty to fill in the story and any heroism.""...Takunak, a speck in the wilderness, modern as microwaves, yet hissing with voices from a brand-new ten-thousand-year-old past: Kill every animal possible, every fur. Share. Avoid taboos. Don't get ahead. Never stand out. Live now. Takunak: generous and jealous, petty and cruel and somehow owning us; owning our decisions; calling us home to assassinate our ambitions. How strange my past, even farther back into the earth--the caribou skin entrance, flickering lamplight, dreams and the conviction to hunt the land for them..."Such is the gritty and complicated reality of Alaska narrated by a white boy named Cutuk Hawckly from the rural NW Arctic in this novel. The book paints unsparing portraits of colonized and quickly-modernized Native village life--including, importantly, the kinds of half-glimpses that a young person might realistically get of the boarding school history and other reasons behind the problems so prevalent today. It also paints incredibly insightful and incisive portraits of modern consumeristic culture and of white Alaskan culture and anti-Native racism (as well as Native-worshipping white people). Some of the most devastating scenes that made me squirm were of white sport hunters from Anchorage and Fairbanks. But so uncomfortable too were the scenes of boys in the village drinking hairspray and Lysol, young girls getting pregnant. And observing it all, participating in parts of it from fear and insecurity, this white boy who constantly pushes down his nose to look Eskimo, to will himself into becoming Iñupiaq, who loves his family and loves the land, who desperately wants friends and acceptance and a purpose in life.Perhaps most startling about this book was how it made me experience my own city. Cutuk, having never left the very rural Northwest Arctic, Cutuk who had to travel 2 days on dog sled to get to the village from the sod igloo he shared with his family, Cutuk arrives first in Kotzebue and then Anchorage. Running down the slushy snow in his winter muluks and soaking them through, trying to trap a lynx to eat where he is camped by the railroad tracks, wandering around Anchorage confused by cars and where all these white people are in such a hurry to go to, later navigating the social dynamic of car mechanics and astounded by how rude and stupid these white men are, confused as to why anyone would buy a dog in a's a fascinating view of my city, urban culture, etc. It is an important view for anyone working with youth or families from the villages who arrive in Anchorage disoriented and culture-shocked. This is a novel of a boy who is stuck "crawling the crevasses in between" the Native Northwest Arctic and the culture he identifies with and yet is excluded from, and the white culture that is supposed to be his but bears no resemblance to his values or way of life. He ultimately finds peace and growth back in his connection to the land, but the troubling social dynamic never disappears. One of the best scenes was of a meeting at the tribal council in the village where outside presenters come to talk about online cultural preservation and grants. They, like so many other well-intentioned but removed people, talk in big words and without connection to the people, and therefore achieve nothing:"The man glanced around quizzically, shuffled papers, and retreated into a forest of overgrown words and Accountant English. The meeting trailed into whispers and tittering. Back on the metal chairs, we chuckled at the man's pronunciation of Joe Smith's Eskimo name. We heard "my dick." We laughed, not because we were mean, but because laughing was traditional, it was something we were good at, and tonight we still remembered how."I only wish that the character of Cutuk, and the author, Seth Kantner, could have met and included in the novel Native characters who managed multiple worlds skillfully, who reached back into tradition and worked modern jobs, or non-elder Native folks who were heroes like Enuk. Enuk, the old hunter who Cutuk idolizes, and Janet, the very good and loving mothering character, are not the only such Native men or women. I wished for the sake of showing Alaska's social dynamic that the character could have come across some more healthy and self-actualized Alaska Native individuals, such as the many I know, to show not only a white Hawckly family hybrid, but show that there are many Alaska Native people who have found ways to balance tradition and modernity.

  • Micheal
    2019-04-11 12:31

    I have read CALL OF THE WILD perhaps twenty times. It is one of my favorite books in the whole world. ORDINARY WOLVES has just entered that realm. I loved this book! A story about real life Alaska, conveying ice, caribou hair and wild meat, the dirt of a sod igloo floor littered with mouse turds, the smell and sound of sled dogs, and wolves in all their glory and tragedy. Told from the perspective of a little boy growing into a man in a vividly realized primitive environment, rife with the wonder, hope and insecurities of a human coming from a simple, sensible existence into the complex, often wasteful and illogical world of modern humans. Cutuk is a blond haired, blue eyed five year old who longs for frostbite scars on his cheeks, a flat nose and dark features like the old eskimo hunter he idolizes. He has the barest memory of his mother, who has fled the hardships and prolonged darkness of winter. Raised by his somewhat eccentric and idealistic father (a talented artist who doesn't like to kill and absolutely won't shoot wolves) along with his older brother and sister, they subsist almost entirely on the land, " in a way even eskimos would no longer live." Home schooled and exceptionally bright, their only contact with the outside world is a distant native village where they are ostracized and bullied for being white. They are witness to the dysfunction and decline of the indigenous population brought on by the influence of civilized culture in the form of rampant alcoholism, technology and materialism.Cutuk's journey is like a reverse CALL OF THE WILD, experienced from a human perspective, as he eventually leaves the wilderness and has to learn the inexplicable ways of mankind in the urban environment. He is confronted with the choice of creature comforts, ease, and human companionship against the primitive, lonely, yet natural way he was bought up. A great story can't translate without great writing, and Seth Kantner writes exceptionally in a style all his own. Writing from his own experience and similar upbringing I am reminded of James Galvins THE MEADOW, so real and thick with knowledge of the land and lifestyle that the reader is easily transported to another reality. I run out of words that adequately describe his prose and fall back on the same cliche terms, like beautiful, poetic, brilliant! A weaver of words and sentences, thought and emotion that moves me beyond the confines of myself, out to the Alaskan tundra and into the heart of Cutuk as he struggles within himself for a place in the world.

  • Gwenn
    2019-03-21 17:35

    I found myself sort of slogging through the purple passages, but as anthropology this book was fascinating. (a very cool clerk lady at cody's in berkeley recommended it to me because I bought Deep Survival-not normally my kind of book, but it's good to get out of your ruts sometimes.) It worked on me the same way the little house books did-as insight into a world beyond imagining, that some people just live. Squeamish about meat? read about living in the arctic! everytime you see any creature, you shoot it, skin it, then eat the best parts raw before they freeze! then put the rest in the cannibal pot! Hate to be cold? read about living in the arctic! curious about the effects of aqua net when inhaled? you get the picture!

  • Janet
    2019-04-02 15:39

    It’s a bad sign when I’ve finished a book and don’t remember who the author is. I finished it only yesterday because I thought I’d try something new and read it during my daily ½ hour lunch breaks. In retrospect, that wasn’t the best idea. This is not the kind of story that you can dip into for short amounts of time. There are so many characters and different settings that it was very hard for me to remember who was who and which characters lived in what town. The writing is beautiful; but I never did discern a plot. It’s my turn to lead the discussion next week and I just discovered there is no reading guide available. Gulp. I’d better do some scrambling.

  • Liz
    2019-04-10 16:16

    After living in Alaska for 26 years, part of that time in Bush Alaska, I can say this is an excellent depiction of 'real' Alaska and the people and other animals who live there. I've never seen it done so well; this book made me homesick. It's a great reflection on what is real and what is important and what is not and how that all changes from person to person. I wish I could give six stars.

  • Bonnie Brody
    2019-04-09 15:39

    I've thought about what differentiates an ordinary wolf from an extraordinary one and believe that the answer lies in Mr. Kantner's book. There are two ways of viewing pack animals - 1) as a group, acting and reacting in predictable group dynamics and 2) observing the actions and behaviors of one particular animal in a group setting or perhaps a wolf that has wandered away from his pack. This metaphor is used throughout the book to frame cultural beliefs and behaviors as opposed to the individual who leaves his culture and finds himself lost and straddling two worlds.I loved this book for so many reasons. For one, it is a grand capturing of a family living far removed from 'civilization' in a cabin without running water or electricity. An outhouse serves as a bathroom. The cabin is miles away from the nearest Native village. Most of the protein comes from hunting and trapping. Other food arrives rarely as the closest town is so far away and the family is living in dire economic conditions. As soon as the family (mother, father, two sons and a daughter) settle in to this less than subsistence lifestyle, the mother runs off, leaving the children in the care of their father who is an artist who still has not reached adult maturity. The children parent their father, providing him with emotional support and taking care of their day to day needs. Their father loves them but his capacity to parent is limited.The youngest son is the protagonist of this novel. He vacillates between hating his isolated and isolating existence to appreciating the solitude, the vastness of the land, and his ability to hone his hunting and survival skills. He views the nearest rural village, populated primarily with Inupiat people in an idealized fashion. He is mentored by two adult Inupiat Eskimos who preserve the traditional ways and pass them on. On the other hand, he feels despair over what he sees as the demise of traditional ways. Inupiat people struggle with how to integrate modern technology, contemporary lifestyles and westernized education and into their indigenous heritage and belief system. He also grieves the loss of so many youth to alcoholism and drug addiction, violence, a welfare state and their leaving their homes as early as they can to make a life in the big city. Traditional ways and the values of the elders are no longer respected.Kantner uses a writing technique that I really appreciate. One chapter is about the protagonist's family or the people in the village that he is close with. The next chapter is about a pack of wolves, anthropomorphized to some extent while the protagonist interprets their pack actions as a vehicle for understanding his own life. The alternation of these two types of chapters continues throughout the book.Besides being beautifully written, the book is REAL. Having lived in Alaska for 40 years, I empathize with Kantner's portrayal of the protagonist's conflicts - his despair at seeing the Inupiat woman he loves living her life in a way that can only harm her and those around her. While she tries to emulate western ways, she will always be an outsider and she will feel a self-loathing and prejudice throughout her life that prevent her from fully integrating two such distinctly different cultures as the Inupiat traditions and contemporary western ways of the U.S.It is very poignant to listen to Kantner's protagonist describe himself as the outsider, the blond one with light skin in a sea of darker skinned and darker haired people - people he reveres. This reverence is like a kick to the heart because we know that the traditional way of life will not last for long and that the protagonist, for all his respect and cherishing of Inupiat culture, will always be an outsider. Throughout this novel we see people trying to straddle two worlds, not being fully integrated or accepted in either.

  • Laura
    2019-03-30 18:42

    "The old Eskimo stories had held intrinsic truth, after all; they started in the middle of things and ended where the storyteller grew tired."At its roots, Ordinary Wolves is a coming of age story; but, based as it is in the remote Alaskan tundra, it's probably not like any coming of age story you have read before. Beyond the traditional angst and displacement of the genre, parts of the story, particularly in the first section are about survival at its basic level. Cutuk, his two older siblings, and his father live off the grid in a dugout sod igloo two days by dogsled from the nearest village. The displacement begins with Cutuk's desire, as a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy, to fit in with the local Inupiaq. In the second part, Cutuk moves first to Anchorage and then to Fairbanks. His remote upbringing has done nothing to prepare him for life in the city. While he now "looks" like the people surrounding him, he realizes that he has no idea how to interact with them - and that his belief system is at odds with the reality surrounding him. In the third section, Cutuk has moved back to the village, and then back into the wilderness, choosing to live in a way that, in them meantime, most of the Inupiaq have rejected. It is here, despite the many changes that have occurred, that he seems to find his peace. Seth Kantner certainly does not romanticize Alaska as so many do. He shows the harshness of life at the edge of the continent, north of the Arctic circle, where survival is often on knife's edge. This is probably a much more "real" Alaska than is typically portrayed. The changes that take place in the village, particularly the influx of "government money", and the snogos (snowmobiles), television, and packaged food that the money buys, are quickly changing the local culture. And, it seems in many cases, not for the better. The displacement experienced by many seems at least as great as Cutuk's, and apparently manifests itself in high levels of violence, drug use, domestic abuse, teenage pregnancy, suicide. One has to question who the role models of the next generation, such as Enuk was to Cutuk, will be. Worrisome is that very few of the characters we encounter seem to have found - or have much chance of finding - their place in the balance between the remoteness of their location, their traditions, and modernity pushing in from all sides. One hopes that Cutuk, at least, has: "I told myself I needed to learn if I claimed to care and planned to help. I wondered if that was true or just sounded good."It takes a while to get the rhythm of this one, but once you do, it will stick with you.

  • Alison
    2019-04-13 16:24

    Last year, in my quest to read 100 books, I wouldn't stop reading a book, no matter how bad it was. I chugged my way through some real train wrecks. So it's rather novel (ha) that I can give up on books halfway through this year. That said, I feel a little bad casting this one aside, especially because it started so promisingly. It opens with a young white boy living with his father and older siblings in northern Alaska. Dad is an artist who's shunned the materialism of the lower 48. He values education - the kids are taking correspondence courses - but he's not trying to keep connected to "civilization" in any other way. Seth Kanter provides plenty of details about living off the land so far north. It's fascinating and fun (and sometimes gross) to learn about the lives the native people and white transplants lead. It reminds me of the kind of book you'd enjoy in sixth grade, like Hatchet or something.But as the main character ages and heads off to Anchorage, the book starts plodding. Cutuk doesn't belong in either world. He feels awkward around other whites, but has never been welcomed by the Eskimo community either. The between-two-worlds theme has been explored more to my liking elsewhere. Once the interaction with animals and descriptions of the bitter cold tapered off, to be replaced by Cutuk learning to banter with his fellow mechanics, I began to lose interest and ultimately decided to move on. It still gets three stars, though, because it started out as a fun world to get lost in.

  • Jules Frusher
    2019-03-25 10:35

    This is a remarkable novel detailing (from the author's personal experience) the harshness of life in rural Alaska and the loneliness of being an outsider.The protagonist, Cutuk, is a white boy being brought up by his father in a remote place in the style of the old native traditions. He longs to be an eskimo, even trying to flatten his nose with his finger and hunt like his 'hero' Enuk. The problem is, very few of the native population in the nearby town accept him and so he is bullied and laughed at, despite all of his attempts to fit in.Later, when he goes to Anchorage, the culture shock is immense, and his lack of familiarity with his own culture makes him an outsider there too. He realises that the only true place he feels at home is among the mountains, snow and animals where he is not judged.This novel is by turns hauntingly beautiful and poignant and also gritty and hard to read. This is no romantic Alaska, but a realistic one full of hunting, alcohol abuse, violence, suicide and animal cruelty. But overlying that is the feeling that there could still be hope, that beauty and wilderness were still there to be found beyond the hunters' helicopters and guns. And woven through it all is the story of a wolf pack and how it is broken apart and rebuilt by its female.This is a worthwhile book to read although not easy, especially if you love animals. But it is still one of those landmark books you won't be able to forget easily once you've finished.

  • Mandy
    2019-03-28 12:27

    If you read this book, prepare for some language. It is an amazing book, partly because I lived in Alaska, and I felt and remembered things while reading this book that I haven't known howto describe to others. Even though I grew up in Fairbanks and not in a rural village, there is an Alaskan spirit that you feel no matter where you are in that huge, amazing place. I love it because I can smell the sealskin, I can feel freezing air in my lungs, the smell of Alaskan wilderness, and can remember the amazing beauty of the sky and the trees, even the way the snow sparkles at 65 degrees below zero. I think anyone would enjoy reading this. I love reading books about other countries and cultures, even when I have absolutely no experience in them, and I would hope that any reader would feel the same about this book.

  • Diane
    2019-04-05 11:42

    An extraordinary book and pretty much excellent writing. At first I thought I would not be able to read it – I can not tolerate the back-to-the-land-how-perfect-it-is-out-ther-and-I-love-doing-without books – (including quite a bit of Annie Dillard, btw) but Kantner’s book has complexity that is rare and difficult. There is the romantic back to the land life, but shown realistically with all the not so romantic parts – even more than I remember from the cabin. The beauty of Alaska and the wisdom of the elders are balanced with the alcohol and other miseries that came with technology and white civilization. The constant question runs through the book of where do I fit in and how can I fit in? – A bit like a modern day “Light in the Forest.” Thanks to Kathy Murray for suggesting the book.

  • Jo Deurbrouck
    2019-03-25 11:32

    Put a seriously talented writer together with a lifetime of unique, powerful, disturbing material and you get, well, 'Ordinary Wolves.' There were things I wanted to be different - I'dve loved to see the wolf vignettes resonate more with the main story line, for starters - but I loved every minute I spent with that book, flaws and all. I especially respected the understatement with which a lot of the most sensational material was presented. I would have been tempted toward drumrolls and crashing cymbals and then a slow fade with the camera focused on blood soaking into the snow. Seth just rolls these insanely powerful images and tough-as-hell moments out like they're nothing, just life. Which is part of his point I suppose.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-04-02 11:15

    I'd heard about this book for a long time and heard Kantner read from it in Anchorage, so I'm not sure why it took me so long to get to actually READING it. I'm blown away. The complicated, true-eyed, fierce representation of all the complications of living in Alaska, both beyond the road system and in the metropolitan Anchorage and Fairbanks, is phenomenal. Racism, hope, despair, the coming of age of a kid at once unique and recognizable -- this book is amazing. It is compelling and challenging. The main character manages to walk potentially fraught subjects because of his own constant self-examination and his ability to see how he is culpable, not just buffeted by experiences, but part of them and a shaper of them. Read it.

  • Amy
    2019-04-11 10:16

    Ordinary Wolves feels related to The Bone People- another book about a character hovering at the edge of a brutal, alcoholic tribal culture, trying to carve out a life and love despite alienation. Cutuk is white, but wishes he was an Eskimo hunter, like his idol, Enuk Wolfglove. Cutuk lives with his father and siblings in the Alaskan wilderness, learning to hunt and trap and run dogs, but the Inupiaq tribal customs they emulate have given way to snowmobiles, indiscriminate hunting, and violence within the tribe itself. Ridiculed by the Inupiaq, Cutuk looks for answers in the consumer culture of the city, with the "Everything-Wanters". He finds no community, and the discomforts of living within an alien culture proves more profound than those of his spare life on the tundra.

  • Lindsay
    2019-03-24 16:24

    Ordinary Wolves won a Milkweed Prize (Milkweed is an independent publisher in Minnesota. I didn't love this book just because I was reading it while on vacation in Alaska, but because it was an interesting take on waste and materialism due to the cross-sections of characters and places. I felt the the story became a little repetitive in theme mid-way through the book, but perhaps this was intentional on the author's part since it was narrated by a teen with an identity crisis.

  • Fran Prather
    2019-04-14 14:14

    This book, which I basically accidentally picked up from one of our new library orders, sat beneath a pile on my bedstand for a year. Noticing it a few days ago, I began reading and could not put it down (when I'm supposed to be writing a paper, no less). It is beautifully written, a haunting story of culture clash, love of the land, coming of age, you name it. Barbara Kingsolver called it an "astonishing book," and I'd have to agree. Highly recommended!

  • Stephanie
    2019-03-29 13:19

    A girlfriend of mine, who now lives in San Diego, grew up with the author of this book, playing together often as little children above the arctic circle. He wrote her into his book as the little blond female character in the novel. The book is based on the experiences they shared as they grew up in this extreme lifestyle and climate. This book is a must read.

  • Marilyn
    2019-04-12 13:14

    A beautifully written story of a non-Eskimo man and his three children growing up in the Alaskan wilderness, their relationship with the Inupiaqs, and the love of the land and nature, and the values that they learned. It is written with such detail and honesty, often life at its most basic, including its harshness and cruelty, but also its love and beauty.

  • Laura
    2019-04-13 15:43

    Put this at the top of your night-stand pile! Kantner writes extraordinarily beautiful, sensitive prose, successfully grappling with enormous themes -- cultural conflicts between natives and whites, traditional ways of living versus new, the struggle for dominance between nature and civilization -- from the viewpoint of one boy coming of age in contemporary Alaska.

  • Books Inc. in Mountain View
    2019-04-03 10:13

    A MASTERFUL WORK! This richly textured, poignant, coming-of-age story is set in the Alaska wilderness. Kanter's respect for the land and, ultimately, those enduring values which give dignity to life are beautifully expressed. The BEST fiction I have read in a long time! My vote for Booksense Book of the Year!

  • Sarah
    2019-04-21 14:37

    my dad gave me this book after he read it. not my normal fare, but I really liked it- i wanted to run away to alaska afterward...

  • Mike
    2019-04-08 18:25

    Great first novel drawing from authors experiences growing up in Alaska.Made me think a lot about society, civilization, human nature and what's important.