Migration Patterns of the North American Chickadee



Winsor, Mary L

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MIGRATION PATTERNS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN CHICKADEE is a collection of stories loosely connected by place and shared characters. The first story, Skinny City, is set at the North Slope of Alaska in the mid-1970’s where Patrick McCarty has found work as a pipefitter on the construction of the Trans Alaska pipeline. But after a year of the physically and spiritually punishing work, Patrick cannot rationalize the purpose of the pipeline or its threat to so much that is dear to him. In the final weeks of Alaskan winter and Yvonne McCarty’s fourth pregnancy, the family departs Alaska, bound for New Mexico in an old school bus. The dangerous, transcontinental journey compels the McCarty family to decide where home is, how to get there, and at what price. The remaining stories move back and forth in time after the journey from Alaska and are told from the points of view of Maggie and Sean (two of the McCartys’ children), and Yvonne McCarty. These stories are not an attempt to re-invent the Joads (or to write the anti-Joads). But intergenerational transience resulting from ecological disaster is a backdrop and prevalent theme in the collection. Other themes, perhaps subordinate to ecological disaster and the motivations for the McCarty family’s perilous journey but nonetheless integral to the characters’ individual journeys, include gender roles and identity, cultural pressures to partner and parent in traditional ways, and animal rights. The author acknowledges gaps in this fictional history, and silence where some voices don’t yet have a say; the map of these characters’ lives is still largely uncharted. But she hopes, too, that how families stay together (or don’t) when hardship hits is at the heart of each story.


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Transience 20th-century American Southwest, Mary L. Winsor fiction, Fiction blue collar American Southwest, Fiction of late 20th-century American Southwest, Winsor short fiction, Literary fiction set in American Southwest