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The author of The Kiss, her memoir addressing her viewpoint on her voluntary role in a romantic, sexual relationship with her father, Kathryn Harrison is equally shocking in The Seal Wife Of course, knowing this is fiction, it is a little different I will admit to having to deter myself from being influenced in a discriminating way by the incest she engaged herself in.Not surprisingly, then There is a feminist view here More specifically, the men are all portrayed rather negatively, throu The author of The Kiss, her memoir addressing her viewpoint on her voluntary role in a romantic, sexual relationship with her father, Kathryn Harrison is equally shocking in The Seal Wife Of course, knowing this is fiction, it is a little different I will admit to having to deter myself from being influenced in a discriminating way by the incest she engaged herself in.Not surprisingly, then There is a feminist view here More specifically, the men are all portrayed rather negatively, through stereotypes womanizer, abusive, looking only for sex, dominating.Like the setting tiny town in Alaska with only a few thousand , the novel is a barren landscape peppered with pockets of eloquent language, several prosaic scenes, little dialogue, but readers will easily be lost on the way and or in between the maybe worthwhile powerful vignettes.As she as in her memoir, Harrison writes fiction with what I assess to bethan necessary candor To beprecise, I admire honesty and straightforward writers, but the details, visual descriptions in some scenes equate to a crude style that I do not.This is, again like The Kiss, a book about obsession Bigelow, the protagonist, somehow becomes enad with The Aleut Woman She has no other name she will not cannot talk to him Interestingly, she refuses his offers for anything emotionally intimate, including kisses, caresses, fondling, oral sex Missionary style She allows herself one orgasm, which she induces, sadly by her own hand while he is inside her For as long as She , as Bigelow names her, will leave her door open to allow him to enter, he will bring a gift usually a pelt, usually a rabbit , she will cook as he watches her closely , they will lie together in her bed, she will bathe in a pot of snow she has melted, then smoke for a while, all while he observes, sometimes talking little, sometimes unable to pause Then he will return to his lonely house, still knowing her no better than when he was first granted entrance no better than the first night he followed her home from Getz s General Merchandise in town, where she gestures for four things he has now memorized tea, tobacco, toffee, paregoric She is not a deaf mute, as she reacts to sounds, allows herself the one cry during orgasm Evensad than this, she never really recognizes him, his presence, except in a passive, indirect way Sometimes she nods, gestures, to all his words, but mostly she merely goes about her life, with him there as an accessory she even has a way of looking at him that is not looking at him, as if she is looking through him But she has to at least somewhat acknowledge him as they have sex almost every night So, it seems this daily sex is enough to have Bigelow grieve as he never has before in his life, not for anyone, even his late father, when, a littlethan eight months later, she does not let him in Not long after, she disappears From the middle of June until September when she returns as mysteriously as she left , our protagonist is a study of obsession He tries to replace She with other girls, with little success There is the prostitute Violet whom figures out his secret, that he wants a girl whom he can fuck without talking She charges him extra to remain silent There is Getz s daughter whom lives above The General Merchandise, whom is also not a deaf mute but will not cannot communicate verbally Although Miriam isengaging, especially later on, writing to him, showing affection, etcetera, he cannot be seduced A different man since The Aleut Woman, he wants her Any other woman is compared to her he thinks of her while having sex with other women No other woman will do Throughout all of this, Bigelow does have to make ends meet This is where Harrison s sedulous research is exemplified, as he is a meteorologist during 195 Scientific vernacular is used he flies a weather kite, advances in weather weather technology are referenced There are few other characters than the ones already mentioned maybe a few others that live in the desolate, lonely landscape of the tiny town in Alaska, then the man whom lived in She s abode during the interim when she disappeared, whom was the one to notify Bigelow on her return Embarrassingly, pretty much the entire town knew about his affairs with The Aleut Woman, as is inevitable in a town of that size They also commended him on his kite, though Alas, he never really has much contact with anyone else his days are full with equations, weather, occasionally a female A loner Only twenty six, though Seems young to be so secluded from society, from life.I feel like this is an emerging sub genre Otherwise one I am only now being introduced to, lonely lives in cold, isolated, barren, lonely, desolate settings Ripe places for grief, death, obsession, drama, darkness Kathryn Harrison s try with this was admirable, with the needed picturesque language, but neededthan that to impress me overall Rating 4 1 2 This very unusual novel is the story of Bigelow, a young mid western man who is sent to Anchorage, Alaska in 1915 to establish a weather station He arrives without the barest necessities or knowledge of what is expected of him, thinking that there is an established station, and when he realizes the situation he has to find the land to put the station on, arrange and pay for the construction at horribly inflated prices and in a place where most of the supplies he requires don t exi Rating 4 1 2 This very unusual novel is the story of Bigelow, a young mid western man who is sent to Anchorage, Alaska in 1915 to establish a weather station He arrives without the barest necessities or knowledge of what is expected of him, thinking that there is an established station, and when he realizes the situation he has to find the land to put the station on, arrange and pay for the construction at horribly inflated prices and in a place where most of the supplies he requires don t exist i.e, nails , and then he must acquire laborers to build it and figure out how to make them work once that arrive on the jobsite Meanwhile, the weather station is almost totally cutoff from the town of Anchorage, so that he meets no one and makes no friends His nearest neighbor is an Aleut woman with whom he is fascinated and eventually creates an unusual relationship, albeit a silent one After that relationship disintegrates Bigelow, who is socially inept, has to find other ways to survive in the desolate and unforgiving north Two of the major themes of this book are sound and silence Music is both a succor and means by which the weather station gets built The women in the book are either silent, and their means of and reasons for silence must be discovered by Bigelow, or they are so chatty that he pays them to keep quiet Along the way Bigelow discovers that his survival in Alaska isthan food and foul weather gear and is very different than in any other place he has lived The writing was excellent, at times lyrical, at times very spare Bigelow was not at first a very likeable character, but he was sympathetic and his persistence and doggedness grew on me I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books which are a bit off the beaten path Alaska It seems I ve read a few books recently to do with this frozen and dramatic country see my glowing review for No Night is Too Long The Seal Wife is set in frontier Alaska, and follows the story of a young meteorologist and his lovestruck obsession with a native woman in a time and place where women are truly scarce But reading this was like going to one of those fancy, spare restaurants you know you re supposed to be impressed by, but frankly just leave you hungry and a bit grossed o Alaska It seems I ve read a few books recently to do with this frozen and dramatic country see my glowing review for No Night is Too Long The Seal Wife is set in frontier Alaska, and follows the story of a young meteorologist and his lovestruck obsession with a native woman in a time and place where women are truly scarce But reading this was like going to one of those fancy, spare restaurants you know you re supposed to be impressed by, but frankly just leave you hungry and a bit grossed out at the weird combinations you endured in the name of gourmet cuisine There s a lot of graphic sex and fairly spooky happenings and yet, she has a way with language and sketches some truly beautiful descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness But just when the story seems to get meaty and the characters interesting, the book pulls back instead of diving deep True, Ms Harrison certainly did a ton of research on early meteorology and frontier Alaska, but I wish she had applied the same diligence to making her characters come alive They didn t breathe and live for me I came across this book completely by accident the title caught my eye when I was sitting in the library I picked it up and read the whole thing in an afternoon It s a mesmerizing, atmospheric story of obsession set in the Alaskan frontier The setting drew me in right away, as did Bigelow s obsession with a woman who refuses to speak, then mysteriously disappears Harrison captures Bigelow s longing so perfectly it made me ache right along with him as I turned the pages I ll definitely be I came across this book completely by accident the title caught my eye when I was sitting in the library I picked it up and read the whole thing in an afternoon It s a mesmerizing, atmospheric story of obsession set in the Alaskan frontier The setting drew me in right away, as did Bigelow s obsession with a woman who refuses to speak, then mysteriously disappears Harrison captures Bigelow s longing so perfectly it made me ache right along with him as I turned the pages I ll definitely be reading her other books ( PDF ) ☽ The Seal Wife ♧ For the first time in paperback, here is the bestselling novel by a writer of extraordinary gifts Tobias Wolff Stunning, hypnotic, spare, The Seal Wife tells the story of a young scientist and his consuming love for a woman known only as the Aleut, a woman who refuses to speak A novel of passions both dangerous and generative, The Seal Wife explores the nature of desire and its ability to propel an individual beyond himself and outside convention Kathryn Harrison brilliantly re creates the Alaskan frontier during the period of the First World War as she explores with deep understanding the interior landscape of the human psyche a landscape eerily continuous with the splendor and terror of the frozen frontier and the storms that blow over the earth and its face Just finished reading Kathryn Harrison s The Seal Wife, and still trying to make head or tails of it Unquestionably, the novel is beautifully written, reminiscent of the grotesque beauty of Spanish magical realism lots of gorgeous detail on not so gorgeous items, including the smells of groins and feet and erections, and the oddly shaped gaps and bodies of lovers Somehow, though, despite this admirable and beautifully gritty feat, Harrison s spare, lean narrative of a scientist obsessed Just finished reading Kathryn Harrison s The Seal Wife, and still trying to make head or tails of it Unquestionably, the novel is beautifully written, reminiscent of the grotesque beauty of Spanish magical realism lots of gorgeous detail on not so gorgeous items, including the smells of groins and feet and erections, and the oddly shaped gaps and bodies of lovers Somehow, though, despite this admirable and beautifully gritty feat, Harrison s spare, lean narrative of a scientist obsessed with both building the highest soaring kite in the world and possessing an Aleut woman who barely acknowledges him is a bit too spare and lean for this reader anyway At times, the novel reads like an elongated short story, like a work of art that occupies a canvas far too large for its miniature scope The novel explores the theme of obsession along only two dimensions obsession with woman, obsession with kite flying , which makes for a very long 223 pages, stretched very thin Had Harrison woven even onethread into her narrative perhaps the obsession of loss that haunts the protagonist s back story, but never does so satisfactorily , the book could have earned the canvas size it set out to attempt Also confusing was the motivation of the protagonist s obsession, and a convincing arrangement of events to render such an obsession feasible and plausible Still, a lovely study in prose for all writers 2.5 3 stars for this reader As the mother of three small children, I have to snatch my reading moments, and quite often I can only read three or so pages at a time This book is kind of perfect for this style of reading, as nothing much happens but it is so beautifully written that each page is a pleasure Essentially it is a book about sexual obsession and loneliness, I think Bigelowe is a very young man who works as a meteorologist in Alaska during the period of WWI in Europe At the time, Alaska is a wild frontier, a b As the mother of three small children, I have to snatch my reading moments, and quite often I can only read three or so pages at a time This book is kind of perfect for this style of reading, as nothing much happens but it is so beautifully written that each page is a pleasure Essentially it is a book about sexual obsession and loneliness, I think Bigelowe is a very young man who works as a meteorologist in Alaska during the period of WWI in Europe At the time, Alaska is a wild frontier, a bit like something out of a cowboy film, but much much colder Bigelowe has virtually zero contact with anyone except for a mute Aleut woman, with whom he becomes utterly obsessed When she disappears without explanation, he passes his time building a massive kite that he fills with scientific instruments and flies miles up into the sky Along the way he has a sort of affair and a horrible, bizarre accident I did enjoy this book, it was quite unlike anything else I ve read, and somehow I think Kathryn Harrison captured what it would have been like living in such a harsh environment, and she did it beautifully I get the impression that she eats, sleeps, breathes and lives words, her writing is truly exceptional, perhaps even in the same category as Hilary Mantell It s the sort of writing that leaves you speechless and dreamy, and makes you realise that any small dream of one day writing a novel of your own is utterly hopeless This is one of those books that I m glad I can review other reader s impressions of and they certainly run the gamut It s a book that on face value seems to be what Bookmaniac noted Nothing interesting happens during the whole story But then Maggie Nicole kick it up a notch Maggie posts Two of the major themes of this book are sound and silence Music is both a succor and means by which the weather station gets built The women in the book are either silent, and their means of and reaso This is one of those books that I m glad I can review other reader s impressions of and they certainly run the gamut It s a book that on face value seems to be what Bookmaniac noted Nothing interesting happens during the whole story But then Maggie Nicole kick it up a notch Maggie posts Two of the major themes of this book are sound and silence Music is both a succor and means by which the weather station gets built The women in the book are either silent, and their means of and reasons for silence must be discovered by Bigelow, or they are so chatty that he pays them to keep quiet You go girl I think it s one of those stories that you have to work at it to get something out of it you have to be willing to look for the themes and threads that run thru the book and decide if it works for you Personally, I enjoyed Harrison s writing style and descriptions I seem to be drawn to short chapter books I think there was a lotsymbolism in it than I picked up on the kite the towns interest in it The main character s sexual meanderings This would be a great read for a book club to dissect Synopsys It is 1915 when Bigelow, a young scientist, is dispatched to build a weather observatory in Anchorage He is optimistic and enthusiastic, little realizing what life will be like in an arctic railroad town peopled by men and precious few women The nights are endless and lonely.Before long he is held sway by a seemingly unknowable woman, Aleut She is not his only obsession he designs a kite intended to fly higher than any kite has ever flown I wasn t impressed by this book The wri Synopsys It is 1915 when Bigelow, a young scientist, is dispatched to build a weather observatory in Anchorage He is optimistic and enthusiastic, little realizing what life will be like in an arctic railroad town peopled by men and precious few women The nights are endless and lonely.Before long he is held sway by a seemingly unknowable woman, Aleut She is not his only obsession he designs a kite intended to fly higher than any kite has ever flown I wasn t impressed by this book The writer was attempting to recreate the atmosphere of ice,remoteness and loneliness of the distant Alaskan land which was fine but the main character and his love story was boring Nothing interesting happens during the whole story Bigelow is obviously in a forcing need of a woman during his stay and quite depressed His connection with the Aletian woman is supposed to be pictured as something unusual and even carrying a kind of hidden beauty but in fact I was bored with their silent meetings and quite unimpressive sex life The Seal Wife is one of those books that seems to have potential and then 60 pages in, you re wondering why you re still reading it The premise is that a young man, Bigelow, is sent up to 1915 era Alaska to set up a weather station He randomly takes up with a non communicative native Aleut woman who soon after, leaves without a trace Aside from the sometimes lovely prose about sounds or the absence of sound, there is nothing I found to like about this story The background and development o The Seal Wife is one of those books that seems to have potential and then 60 pages in, you re wondering why you re still reading it The premise is that a young man, Bigelow, is sent up to 1915 era Alaska to set up a weather station He randomly takes up with a non communicative native Aleut woman who soon after, leaves without a trace Aside from the sometimes lovely prose about sounds or the absence of sound, there is nothing I found to like about this story The background and development of Bigelow is slow and pointless Again, another novel with an unlikeable protagonist and a boring secondary and mostly absent protagonist.If you feel like you want to read this, you might be better off reading something else