The History of Kate Shugak in 22 Objects – 6

WARNING: Spoilers spoken here.


6 – The moose

P1000789 copy

This was a tough one, for me as well as the fans, vide Megan’s thoughtful comment here. (I also loved Jodie’s comment here.)


But in the end, the votes have it and I agree, it’s the moose. Moose is food, and without food there is no survival. There have been times when Alaska moose have been stricken with disease which drastically reduced the food supply for local tribes, forcing draconian decisions for mere survival (see Two Old Women by Velma Wallis). Google the definition of subsistence sometime. The important words there are “at a minimum level.” As in you aren’t quite starving, you’re just hungry all the time. The food supply is everything, from bowhead whale to walrus to caribou to bear, and moose, and when you’re hungry everything else that doesn’t manage to get out of the way first. Marty’s right, the issue is subsistence.

A visitor said, “Do you see a lot of moose around, then?” and my friend Dan said, “They’re like mice.” I think that was the year his brother Dave shot one from the deck of his house (relax, legally, he lives way outside the city limits and it was hunting season). Yes, they’re everywhere, including my front yard, which is where these pictures and the video below were taken.

Yeah, sure, cute video of moose enjoying the fireweed. Just remember, to many Alaskans these pictures don’t say “How beautiful.” They say “When’s dinner?”

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26 Comments Leave a comment

  1. As I reread my favorite book I decided the obvious answer was “breakup” itself. Or perhaps Mac’s D 6 Cat. Upon further consideration however, I’ve chosen a very tiny object, the golden crowned sparrow. As Kate laments to Emaa at the end of the book that she does not want to be the problem solver for the park, she is comforted and encouraged by the 3 clear notes from the sparrow/Emaa.

  2. Oh Breakup – my favorite Kate book of all time. There are so many opportunities here: the jet engine, the D6 Cat, Kate’s truck, Alaska’s used bookstores, grizzly bears, breakup itself – but I must agree with Marty, my choice would be the golden crowned sparrow.

  3. What about a skidoo/snowmachine? They feature in more than one book, they are ubiquitous and there’s always the how-drunk-are-they question when you hear them in the distance. 🙂 Great workhorse or fool’s toy?

  4. Oh this is a tough one. My favorite Kate book. This one just has too many to choose from, so I think I will go with the bear. The jet engine be a close second.

  5. Gayle that is exactly what I was thinking. The plane is important, but it is in a million pieces. The bear stands out for me as is attacks the truck and kills a woman(although the husband surely caused that to happen on purpose). So my vote goes for the grizzly. Would love to see Kate go back up the bluff with mama bear coming after her.

  6. Well… 1st thing that came to mind was the replacement truck Mandy gave her. 2nd was the Swiss Army knife. It is too difficult to come up with a way to put ‘Breakup’ into a singular form that can be in a photograph.

  7. The Grizzly. She runs into one by the stream, then at the abandoned mine.

    Given the airplane would be perhaps better. More Alaskan. Then the ground loop, drunk, track crash..

  8. Oh, this is hard! My very favorite Kate book, of which I am a proud owner of an autographed copy, that time Dana actually deigned to come to the Midwest. I’d have to say the Grizzly, at the top of a long, long list.

  9. This book comes with an embarrassment of riches! Which to call the iconic Breakup item? Jet engine because it kicks off the craziness in this book? Grizzly bears close-calling it with Kate and dripping with a woman’s blood? Cat-9 outwardly symbolizing Kate’s inner power? Mandy’s parents? Mandy’s red truck? Middle finger? The sparrow channeling Emma? Sheesh, Dana! Make it hard wouldya? I’m gonna go with the jet engine to symbolize this book, just because, to quote Bobby Clark, “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, he said finally. “Now that’s what I call *breakup*.”

  10. Either that Ford truck or the airplane engine. The Moose would have been good for Break Up, Too. That is still the funniest scene, moose, bear, drunks on four wheels and then game warden. I still try to imagine her running up the bank backwards into the trees. Break Up is my all time favorite.

  11. I *love* Breakup (the book–have never experienced the season), and again, it’s such an object-rich book that it’s impossible to choose just one obvious thing. On the whole, I think I’m going to vote for the truck (Mandy’s red truck/Kate’s replacement truck) because it bore witness to nearly all the other events. And because it got so badly beaten up. I could hear the metal screeching, when the Cat got too close at the end, and it sounded like fear.
    In the space of what, two days? That truck was attacked by a bear acting as a homicidal weapon, provided shelter for people fleeing a plane crash and an armed and wronged woman, brought the utterly delightful Richard and Margery Baker into our lives, witnessed not one but two shootouts at the Roadhouse and the resolution thereto at the metaphorical hands of the D6, transported Kate to the hostage situation at the Bingleys and the solution to a bizarre murder, and was nearly flattened by the D6 itself. I think it deserves the pity vote, if nothing else.

  12. I would vote for the jet engine as it is the most unlikely visitor that starts this hilarious and wonderful book. Then there is the calmness and finishing touch of the sparrow.

  13. 1st choice: the bear. Bears figure a lot in Kate’s life, and they are a symbol of the land she belongs to. 2nd: the engine, as a symbol of the crazy things that always interrupt Kate’s life and send her in totally unexpected directions.

  14. The bird that sings with the three notes and reminds Kate of her grandmother. It is throughout the books and often brings her a great sense of peace.

  15. It is so difficult to think of just one thing to represent this book. The plane engine, the bears, Bernie’s the sight of the shoot outs and social gatherings and the CAT, I can still hear her engine growl!

  16. I just finished Bad Blood and I don’t know if I can wait to see how Mutt and Kate are. I’m hoping you let Mutt survive! I love these books and Kate Shugak, keep them coming.

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