Two new books by Homer-area authors hit the shelves in May, offering readers a chance to dive into fiction inspired by myth as well as the history of Homer's original pioneers.
Nancy Lord's newest effort is a collection of short fiction called "The Man Who Swam With Beavers," published by Coffee House Press and selling for $14.95 in paperback. Lord said many of the stories in the book are inspired by Alaska Native and frontier myths and legends as well as those from other cultures.
"It is not my intent to appropriate, retell or improve on the traditional source stories, but to use them as starting points to explore the dilemmas and delights of modern American life," she said.
Lord came across the myths and legends through her studies as well as from her readings, she said. In the collection of short stories, written over the past decade, Lord said she used the myths as inspiration and applied them to modern-day settings.
"They were just a way of getting started, having some source of spark."
The book is a departure, she said, from her previous works, which include "Green Alaska: Dreams from the Far Coast," and "Fishcamp: Life on an Alaskan Shore," as well as "Survival."
"This is more imaginative," she said. "I wrote it because I had been writing a lot of nonfiction and felt like I was stuck in the real world."
Lord said there is a common theme in her past books and "The Man Who Swam With Beavers," however, because all draw heavily on the connection between humans and the natural world.
"A lot of what I am talking about is how people really need the natural world," she said.
Also releasing a new book this year is Diana Tillion, who has spent the past two years gathering stories of those whom she considers to be the true pioneers of Homer.
Tillion's family settled in Homer in 1943, but said even when she moved there, many of the facilities already were in place. Her hat and pen are off to tell the stories of those families who built the first roads and homes and dug the first wells.
"It's very important to know the history of the area in which you live," Tillion said. "That's how you have a sense of how things change, because things change all the time, whether you are a part of them or not."
Tillion said she wrote the book for the Pratt Museum and all proceeds will go to the museum.
"So many new people have come and they don't have a clue how it all began or who the key families are," she said.
"Pioneers of Homer, Alaska" includes 12 narratives from pioneer families, a section of photographs, and a third section with the minutes of the Homer Civic League. She added the latter, Tillion said, because she felt it clearly told the story of how concerned the league was with obtaining infrastructure like roads and telephone lines.
"They were really building a little civilization," she said.
Tillion's book begins with the coal miners who arrived in 1886 and continues until the airport was built to fuel planes for the war.
"That changed Homer dramatically," she said.
Carey Restino is a reporter for the Homer News.
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