January 27, 2019
If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name
If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name by Heather Lende
Nonfiction - Memoir
2006 Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Finished on January 15, 2019
Rating: 3/5 (Good)
Tiny Haines, Alaska, ninety miles north of Juneau, is accessible mainly by water or air--and only when the weather is good. There's no traffic light, no mail delivery, people can vanish without a trace, and funerals are community affairs.
As both obituary writer and social columnist for the local newspaper, Heather Lende knows better than anyone the goings-on in this breathtakingly beautiful place. Her offbeat chronicle brings us inside her busy life: we meet her husband, Chip, who owns the local hardware store, their five children, and a colorful assortment of friends and neighbors, including aging hippies, salty fishermen, and native Tlingit Indians, as well as the moose, eagles, sea lions, and bears with whom they share this wild and perilous land.
"Part Annie Dillard, part Anne Lamott... NPR commentator Heather Lende... subtly remind[s] readers to embrace each day, each opportunity, each life that touches our own and to note the beauty of it all." ~ Los Angeles Times
This is the third book by Heather Lende that I've read since I first discovered her nonfiction in 2012. While I enjoyed it more than Find the Good, it wasn't nearly as good as Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs. I had high hopes, as we are planning to take an RV trip to Alaska in the next few years and I thought this memoir might provide some interesting tips about where to go and what to see. Some of the stories were touching, particularly "I Am Not Resigned" (which deals with the death of a beloved pet), but most will fade from my memory over the next few months. I'm not sorry I read Lende's essays, but they didn't resonate with me the way Kelly Corrigan's did in Tell Me More.