Wilderness: a journal of quiet adventure in Alaska by Rockwell Kent is the journal of the renowned American artist who spent the winter of 1918 on Fox Island in Resurrection Bay near Seward. Kent and his son (also named Rockwell, which causes some confusion in the narration) are taken in by a solitary yet jolly Swede named Olsen who invites the two to stay in one of his cabins. After evicting the current tenants of the cabin (his angora goats), the Kents settle in for the winter. Rumors abound in Seward that there’s a German spy living out in the bay. Kent’s observations on wilderness, weather and solitary life will appeal to many Alaskans. Accompanying the text are fabulous reproductions of many of the intricate drawings (resembling woodcut prints) made by the author during his stay on Fox Island.
This book has become somewhat of a cult classic in Alaskan literature and I find myself checking it out nearly every winter since discovering it. I’ve even been writing poems inspired by the illustrations, check them out here. Or if you’re planning a trip to the Plattsburgh, NY area anytime soon, check out the Rockwell Kent Gallery & Collection at the Plattsburgh State Art Museum.
Reviewed by: Jonas