Saturday, June 20, 2009

Spike Walker

Walker practices what he calls “literary journalism.” His aim, he says, is to bring to the page a fine collection of Alaska adventure stories that connects the reader’s heart to the written word.

Walker brings to the page a journalist’s eye for important facts, a poet’s sense of image and detail, and a true storyteller’s gift for narrative.

Walker says he discovered literature while at OSU on a full athletic scholarship as a record-holding shot-putter. He cites as major influences Steinbeck, Hemingway, London, and Saroyan. But he came to believe early on that non-fiction was more interesting than fiction. He graduated from OSU in 1974, tried logging for awhile, and in 1978 he went to sea fishing for crab in the frigid waters off the coast of Alaska. In 1981, deciding he’d had enough of the back-breaking, bone-grinding work of crab fishing, he discovered that he could write. He has drawn his stories from his experiences with the fishing fleet. His fourth book, Survivor’s Edge, is with the printer now. He has served as a consultant for three episodes of the TV series “After the Catch.”

I picked up Walker’s first book, Working on the Edge, intending to just skim it. It consumed about two days of my attention. It displaced housework, watering the garden, even reading the new New Yorker magazine. I found it difficult to put down long enough to cobble together meals. After the dramatic conclusion, I reflected on how much I had learned in the process of being gripped by this amazing narrative. It should be required reading for any young person who has dreams of going to Alaska and “making it big” in the fishing industry.

I know from our conversations and from his writing that he truly has the gift of gab, and I can hardly wait to hear what he has to say.

- Marianne Klekacz

Video Copyright Carla Perry

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