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About the Author: Melinda Moustakis

Melinda Moustakis was born in Fairbanks, Alaska and raised in California. Bear Down Bear North: Alaska Stories, her first book published by University of Georgia Press in 2011, won the Flannery O' Connor Award and the Maurice Prize and was a 5 Under 35 selection by the National Book Foundation. The book was also a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Conjunctions, Cimarron Review, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. She was a Hodder Fellow at The Lewis Center of the Arts at Princeton University and received a 2014 National Endowment of the Arts Literature Fellowship in Fiction. Her story "They Find the Drowned" won a 2013 PEN/ O. Henry Prize. Currently, she is a Kenyon Review Fellow at Kenyon College.

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Goodreads rating: 3.98

Paperback, Published in Oct 2012 by University of Georgia Press

ISBN10: 0820344907 | ISBN13: 9780820344904

Page count: 144

In her debut collection, Melinda Moustakis brings to life a rough-and-tumble family of Alaskan homesteaders through a series of linked stories. Born in Alaska herself to a family with a homesteading legacy, Moustakis examines the near-mythological accounts of the Alaskan wilderness that are her inheritance and probes the question of what it means to live up to larger-than-life expectations for toughness and survival.

The characters in Bear Down, Bear North are salt-tongued fishermen, fisherwomen, and hunters, scrappy storytellers who put themselves in the path of destruction—sometimes a harsh snowstorm, sometimes each other—and live to tell the tale. While backtrolling for kings on the Kenai River or filleting the catch of the Halibut Hellion with marvelous speed, these characters recount the gamble they took that didn’t pay off, or they expound on how not only does Uncle Too-Soon need a girlfriend, the whole state of Alaska needs a girlfriend. A story like “The Mannequin at Soldotna” takes snapshots: a doctor tends to an injured fisherman, a man covets another man’s green fishing lure, a girl is found in the river with a bullet in her head. Another story offers an easy moment with a difficult mother, when she reaches out to touch a breaching whale.

This is a book about taking a fishhook in the eye, about drinking cranberry lick and Jippers and smoking Big-Z cigars. This is a book about the one good joke, or the one night lit up with stars, that might get you through the winter.

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