Dave Onofrychuk’s “Epic Journeys” September block class welcomed special guest Don Rearden, author of one of the course’s texts, “The Raven’s Gift,” on Thursday, Sept 13. Students enjoyed reading this post-apocalyptic tale of survival in a barren southwestern Alaska landscape ravaged by a bird flu epidemic. None had read an Alaska novel of this kind, an adventure story set in the area around Bethel, where Rearden grew up.
Rearden explained his process of structuring each chapter to span three different times periods—the present, the past, and the more recent past—as an inadvertent reflection of the three time periods most valued by the Alaska Natives he grew up with. He was inspired to write the novel by the many ancient stories he heard as a youth, in a place where mysticism and the supernatural enlivened everyday life. Students came away from the visit with a deeper understanding of the culture of their state.