Sunday, March 1, 2020

Another Podcast: Kirkus Book Reviews

The wild ride through the publishing world has been fascinating.

This podcast with Kirkus Book Reviews was memorable. The host Megan Labrise was easy to talk to, well-informed, asked good questions. She even had me recite the epigraph at the beginning of The Adventurer's Son, then asked who wrote it. Best of all she was totally non-plussed when my computer crashed in the middle of the interview while we were talking on the Skype-like "Zencastr" that recorded the interview.

Later that day my six-week old computer died completely and I had to take it in for a replacement.

The middle of the next week I had to rise at 4:30 AM for an East Coast live radio show at AK Time 5:30 AM, then prepare for teaching; teach until 2:00 PM; go to several hours of APU-presidential search committee events until 5:45; then rush to an Alaska Writer's Guild meeting to present on memoir writing from 6-7 PM. A long, exhausting day.

Fortunately my friends, too, have blogged reviews:  Luc Mehl, Andrew Skurka, and Mike Curiak whose review also showed up on the Adventure Journal. I dearly wanted them to read the book and see what they thought in their perceptive prose.

All of this publicity is ok by me. I'm not trying to spray my accomplishments all over the internet, but rather tell the story of how my son went missing, and to tell it from the beginning, warts, tears, and all. It means a lot to me to get it right and maybe pass on whatever small lessons other unsuspecting adventurers out there—sons, daughters, fathers, mothers—might gain from reading my memoir, The Adventurer's Son.

Oh yes, Christian Science Monitor, Anchorage Daily News (pay walled-in), New York Times, and Men's Journal. There're a bunch of interesting and provocative reader-reviews on Good Reads, too.

This week, maybe, if the world doesn't end by virus, market crash, or some other as yet unsuspected event, listen to Dave Davies on Fresh Air.

Saturday, February 22, 2020


Busy with science in a tropical tree, 200-feet off the ground, I heard a squirrel. Looking, I saw not a rodent, but a 3-foot serpent, dangling in a long, lazy S. Gently swaying, it leapt free, its body flattened and sinusoidal as it sailed away, wiggling like it would in the water. 

The flying snake crossed 50 yards of empty air, approached a smooth trunk, reared up, straightened out, and stalled. After sticking its vertical landing, the reptile inched up the distant tree and disappeared. 

Quite a feat for the beast famously condemned to crawl.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

A Good Place for FREE Downloads of USGS topo maps to look at on Google Earth from the USGS

For old-school, old-dog, old-farts like me, nothing beats the crutch of USGS topo-maps. Perhaps it sounds heretical but I'm not really a fan of Cal-Topo: too gimmicky with bad naming conventions for many features in Alaska as I've found many times when people write me for route beta in some obscure mountain range of AK.

For route planning I download .kmzs of USGS topos FOR FREE (no subscription) from here:, unzip them, and open them up in Google Earth Pro (GEP). If I'm lucky there's some good Maxar/DigitalGlobe half-meter resolution imagery hosted by GEP. If it's crappy old Landsat underneath, then I much prefer the topo. Call me what you will, but, boy, do I love those old maps, especially the 1:250,000 scale for not just planning but travel.

And by the way: why not leave the phone and Gaia home next time and just go paper?

Friday, January 24, 2020

More on The Adventurer's Son

Steve Rinella hosted me as a guest on a recent "Meateater Podcast." He's a pretty intense guy, and having read his book American Buffalo I really looked forward to meeting him. Here's the link

My publisher has released two chapters from Part I of The Adventurer's Son as they gear up to release the book in a few weeks. Not much need be said about these chapters; if I wrote them well, then they should speak for themselves, right?

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Book Release Event: February 19, 2020 at Bear Tooth Theatrepub, Anchorage

On Wednesday, February 19 at Anchorage's Bear Tooth Theatrepub, Title Wave Books will host the release of The Adventurer's Son. 

Luc Mehl will MC.

Admission is free.

From 5:30-6:30 I'll have a presentation and maybe make a few short reads, followed by a question and answer session, and then a book signing until 7:30.

Please come.

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