My Favorite Things Alaska

All this attention is being devoted to Alaska, so I thought I should do my own evaluation.  Note in advance that politicians don’t usually make these lists, they’re not "favorite" enough for me.  And enough about her for now anyway (though I’ll note in passing, in response to Andrew Sullivan and others, that if voters want to like her, they’ll simply refuse to see McCain in the properly cynical light); but no more comments on this issue for now as I want the blogosphere back!

1. Novel, set in: Jack London’s Call of the Wild or White Fang are the obvious choices.  Did you know that London’s fiction was very widely read in the former Soviet Union?

2. Music: There’s Jewel and Bette Midler and maybe you’re all wondering which one I will pick.  But the excellent Kevin Johansen, also associated with Buenos Aires I might add, is the proverbial rabbit from the hat.  Ha! 

3. Movie, set in: Both Never Cry Wolf and Grizzly Man are very good; the former had a lead character named Tyler before the name became fashionable.  And isn’t Nanook of the North set in Alaska?  Into the Wild is another pick and I doubt if I have exhausted the list.

4. Basketball player: Carlos Boozer is from Juneau.

5. Sculpture: Alaska is probably #1 in the entire United States once you consider the indigenous peoples.  The best works are from the 1950s and 60s and they are not always attributable.  My personal favorite is Thomassie Annanok but of course that is a matter of taste.  Ingo Hessel’s book on Inuit Art is a favorite of mine, noting that it focuses more on Canada than Alaska.

6. Other arts: The Tlingit (some of whom live in Canada) have excellent totem poles, boxes, and carvings.  The Haida are another rich artistic tradition.

7. Novel, set in: Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union is the obvious pick plus I hear The Cloud Atlas (The Liam Callanan book, not the David Mitchell one, which is very good but not connected to Alaska) is good.

8. Travel book, set in: Jonathan Raban’s Passage to Juneau: A Sea and its Meanings is lovely.  I’ve never read John Muir’s Travels in Alaska but it is likely a contender.

9. Blogger: Hail Ben Muse of Alaska, advocate of free trade!

The bottom line: It relies too much on "set in," but overall the list is better than I had been expecting.  Sadly, Alaska is the one American state I have yet to visit.


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