A debut story collection about women navigating the wilds of male-dominated Alaskan society.
Set in Newman’s home state of Alaska, Nobody Gets Out Alive is an exhilarating collection about women struggling to survive not just grizzly bears and charging moose, but the raw legacy of their marriages and families.
Alongside stories set in today’s Last Frontier—rife with suburban sprawl, global warming, and opioid addiction—Newman delves into remote wilderness of the 1970s and 80s, bringing to life young girls and single moms in search of a wilder, freer, more adventurous America. The final story takes place in a railroad camp in 1915, where an outspoken heiress stages an elaborate theatrical production in order to seduce the wife of her husband’s employer.
“Rich with wit and wisdom, showing us that love, marriage, and family are always a bigger and more perilous adventures than backcountry trips” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), these keenly observed stories prove there are some questions—about love, heartbreak, and the meaning of home—that can’t be outrun, no matter how hard we try. Nobody Gets Out Alive is a dazzling foil to the adventure narratives of old.
While I cannot exactly pinpoint when I decided to start reading more short stories, it is something I am trying to do. I somehow missed that period in school where you read them and acquired a taste for short-form writing. Nobody Gets Out Alive caught my interested when I was looking for April releases for my most anticipated list. I thought it would be a perfect foray into short stories.
Nobody Gets Out Alive is a collection of character-focused short stories about women living and surviving in male-dominated Alaska. A majority of the stories take place in the 1970s and 1980s while the last story in the collection occurs in 1915.
I loved reading about women’s experiences living in Alaska throughout their lifetimes. The stories encompassed different periods in women’s lives from childhood to old age and women both born in Alaska and in the process of moving there. I also adored the fact that most of the stories were connected in small ways.
I generally prefer plot-driven to character-driven stories. However, I found Leigh Newman’s characters in this collection particularly compelling. There was also enough plot to each story to find myself immersed despite the length. I was surprised with how absorbed I found myself.
I really enjoyed Newman’s writing and found it enthralling. My biggest complaint was that I thought that actions could have been spelled out more in the first two stories. I was left feeling like I missed something crucial. Perhaps this is due to my lack of ability to read people and judge typical human behavior, but I also believe that if you are telling a story, you should not leave readers guessing as to what happened.
Overall, I really enjoyed Nobody Gets Out Alive and would recommend it. My favorite stories of the collection were “Alcan, an Oral History” and “Our Family Fortune Teller.”
Plot & Cohesiveness
Nobody Gets Out Alive: Stories
April 12, 2022