USA Updates Author explains how growing up in Alaska prepares you for everything TOU

USA Updates Author explains how growing up in Alaska prepares you for everything


USA Updates Author explains how growing up in Alaska prepares you for everything


During the pandemic, Leigh Newman’s Alaskan upbringing really kicked into high gear. At one point, she prepared in case there was complete social distancing in NYC, where she now lives.

“I have a house in rural Connecticut that’s my pretense of Alaska. I have chickens. If I’m isolated from society, I can shoot birds,” she says with a laugh. “I have 6 There was food, water, lifejackets and Gatorade for the month. Then, I bought a raft. And I thought, ‘Someone is going to fight me for this raft.’ I was ready to launch it from Carroll Gardens into the Gowanus Canal. I told my kids, ‘Don’t tell anyone we have this fleet.'”

She pays homage to her home state in her collection of short stories, “Nobody Gets Out Alive” (Scribner), a Kirkus-starred collection of tales of remote wilderness, railroad camps, broken marriages, the Alaskan suburbs—and yes, Moose dogs, which are exactly what they sound like: hot dogs made from moose. (His 2013 memoir about growing up in Alaska, “Still Points North” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize.)

“I’m tough,” she admits. “I grew up hunting my own food and flying airplanes. My father treated me like boys. I had my pistol. You have to know how to do a lot of things.” This is essential in a place where preparation can mean the difference between life and death.

Writer Leigh Newman, who grew up in Alaska, teaches herself to hold back against the force of Mother Nature.
Wolfgang Kahler / LightRocket via Getty Images

“When luggage catches on fire, there is no fire department. I lost a friend to a black bear that they ran into on a hike. You always hear these stories. In Alaska, you can’t think that you have more power than Mother Nature. Thinking you know it all, when people die.”

While she’s lived in and out of New York since 1993—ten years spent as a travel writer, during which time she was often away—she fully settled in 2004, when she became pregnant and moved to Brooklyn.

While the city is certainly a change from her home state, it’s not as different as you might think.

author Leigh Newman
author Leigh Newman
Nina Subin

“NYC and Alaska are both living cultures,” she says. “People speak clearly and, at the same time, know that someone can hurt them if they speak up” as well clearly. The people are very open and welcoming. [Alaska] There is a frontier culture and full of individuality and eccentricity – and in many ways, so is New York. ,

“On TV, Alaskans are often toothless and drive on snowy roads,” she says. “In fact, most Alaskans have a very high IQ. Too many people came to Alaska to make it happen; they’re very entrepreneurial, probably social misfits. [In the book]In this article, I wanted to show a side of Alaska that didn’t show the people living in the bush in Alaska under the tarp—but the people doing the actual work. An accountant who is also a bush pilot. Being a lawyer, but climbing mountains on the weekend. I wanted to show the tight bonds of the community. I wrote it because I like it.”

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