Brian Keenan's fascination with Alaska began when he was a small boy choosing his first library book in a Belfast school. The book was Jack London's wondrous Call o f the Wild. And Alaska's mesmeric wilderness has permeated Keenan's life ever since.
A short visit to Fairbanks several years ago was enough to seal his connection with the place and he resolved to return. In 2003 he did so, with a head full of questions about its inspiring landscape and a heart informed with his own love of the desolate and barren places of the world. In the course of a journey that takes him through four geographical quarters from snowmelt in May to snowfall in September, he discovers a land as fantastical as a fairy tale but whose vastness has a very peculiar type of allure ...
From dog-mushing on a frozen lake beneath the whirling colours of the aurora borealis to camping in a two-dollar tent in the tundra of the Arctic Circle, from skinning hides with an ageing shaman and his wife to boating in the stormy Bering Sea, along frozen inlets to a remote Eskimo fishing camp, Brian Keenan seeks out the ultimate wilderness experience and connects with a spectrum of wildlife, including his own `spirit bear', all of them roamers in `The Big Lonely'.
En route, Brian Keenan encounters hard-core survivalists who know what struggle and endurance mean from their daily battle for existence. And finally, he discovers that true wilderness is as much a state of mind as it is a place and that ultimately, to make Alaska home, one must surrender to the land.