"Edges of the Earth: A Man, a Woman, a Child in the Alaskan Wilderness" by Richard Leo

Posted on Mon 09 February 2009 in ClubReading

Richard Leo had a good life. He had graduated college, was starting a career, living with his girlfriend in New York. But it wasn't what he wanted out of life. So after much soul-searching, he sells everything, grabs the girlfriend and heads to Alaska.

With no previous experience, they manage to survive in Alaska and eventually build a home in a remote section of wilderness.

Richard tells his story with honest self-effacing humor and charming wit. He seems to have a never ending supply of optimism.

Even if you don't read the whole book, you should at least read the last chapter which starts:

It's impossible to live in isolation and not reach toward the rest of life. Lonely people long. Saints pray. The rest of life can be other people or God or the land where animals look for or provide food. I can't judge which is more worthy to reach out toward. It's all requisite and, with a moment's reflection, surrounding. True isolation is, ultimately, a feeling of being disconnected. A wilderness homestead can certainly seem, to conventional perspectives, isolated. But for me it is connected to so much of the rest of life that I can't feel lonely.

When I stomp out across the tundra in pursuit of game or firewood, I am very much aware that the reasons for my excursions are identical to those that motivated our ancestors from the time the Ice Age required an immediate link to the animals and to the gods who sustain us all.

Edges of the Earth is a well written and gripping story that I strongly recommend.