The Last Light Breaking
Nick Jans: The Last Light Breaking: Living Among Alaska’s Inupiat Eskimos (Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books, 1993)
Nick Jans may not have intended to move permanently to Northwestern Alaska, but somehow he found his home among the people, native and transplanted that live in a small town. By the time he wrote this book, he had more than 15 years of experience living as an outdoorsman, teacher, merchant, and friend among the people of one of the most remote areas of the world. His writing is warm and poetic and a wonderful way to connect with a place, but more wonderfully a way to connect with a people, whose way of life is changing. Twenty years after the book was written, I wondered as I read if I was reading about something that is now forever gone. It isn’t like reading history, really, but it was a window on something that I know is not a part of the world where I live. I was saddened to think of what has been lost.
I’ve been reading books about Alaska as a way of dreaming about a trip that I may one day take. I have long thought of Alaska as an amazing place and I have imagined that I might visit a place where there are few people. What I know from Nick Jans book is that it is unlikely that I will be able to get away from people even in remote areas of Alaska. But it also reminds me that the people I might meet in the place were there are fewer people are remarkable indeed.