I have had a rich life, with many travels and adventures, and a warm blanket of friends and community. I never intended to write books for a living. It seemed impossible. But one thing led to another – the nature of a winding road is that you don’t always know what’s ahead – and I took a risk, what John Steinbeck might call “the tragic miracle of consciousness.” I ended up in a remote town in Alaska, working for myself, telling stories.
The following book titles appear in chronological order, from 2005 back to 1991. The most recently-published titles appear first. All are still in print except Iditarod Spirit, and can be purchased at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com. I encourage you to buy books at your local independent bookstore. My favorite stores (in my area) are Hearthside Books in Juneau, Alaska (www.hearthsidebooks.com), Old Harbor Books in Sitka, Alaska (www.oldharborbooks.com), and Sing Lee Alley Books in Petersburg, Alaska.
I have two books in progress, to be published in 2012/13. One is Fixing a Hole in the Ocean, a memoir about one’s man discovery of finding a better way to be rich (through the transformational powers of music, water and wildness), the other is Old Ben and the Cedar Canoe, a literary novel about a grandfather, a grandson, and a canoe journey they take together in Alaska. I’m also developing a photo book on the Arctic and Antarctic with a strong emphasis on global climate change (I’ve made 12 trips to the Arctic and 36 trips to Antarctica).
I was a consultant to Ken Burns & Florentine Films on the Emmy Award winning 12-hour 2009 PBS film “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”
Fixing a Hole in the Ocean is a memoir about one man’s discovery of a better America (a small town in Alaska) through the power of music, water and wildness; an inspirational story reminiscent of Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire. Woven throughout are parallel stories of self-discovery, brotherly friction, the joys of falling in love, and the gifts of finding true friends and community amid wild country. The book’s title comes from a line in a John Lennon song, “Glass Onion,” off the White Album. It’s not the Pacific or Atlantic ocean Lennon sings about, it’s the human ocean, a metaphor about the beauty we create in our togetherness, our humanity, but also the destruction we wrought through our endless dissatisfaction, the modern idea that we must always grow our economy to be happy and prosperous. In this book Kim finds another way of life, another ethos and path to contentment, where nobody locks a door or dies alone. Old Ben and the Cedar Canoe is a novel set in the glacial-cut, rainforest coast of Southeast Alaska, near Glacier Bay, about an old man who thinks he wants to die until he finds himself on a journey in an ocean canoe, and all his youthful senses come into play. So clever he becomes at sea, alert in the wind and rain, nobody can find him. Set against the wildness of Alaska and a rogue’s gallery of characters, this non-formulaic story will have you reading (& laughing) late into the night.
The Only Kayak
This memoir is about living in Alaska, and falling in love with a place that cannot stay the same. When do you hold on and when do you let go? This universal theme – dealing with change, living in a paradox – gives the book broad appeal and won it strong praise from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews, which called The Only Kayak “A tender chronicle of a miracle in process…” Mary Piper said “The Only Kayak helps us reconnect what the Lakota call the sacred hoop of life. I want to give this book to a dozen friends, and dear reader, I want to share it with you.”
A 2006 PEN USA Literary Award finalist for creative non-fiction. “Kim Heacox has outdone himself. This book is funny, sad, erudite, and beautifully written, and an important contribution to Alaska literature. It’s a rarity – a book that manages to convey an important environmental message without sliding into self-absorbed intellectualism.” Nick Jans, author of The Last Light Breaking.
ISBN: 1-59228-715-8 Lyon’s Press (Guilford, CT) 2005
An American Idea: The Making of the National Parks
How did a nation so dedicated to business, growth and the capitalistic spirit come to embrace national parks; the idea that we should leave a few pieces of America as we found them? It’s a fascinating, inspirational story, told over a 400-hundred-year reach of time, beautifully illustrated with historical sketches, paintings, and photographs. “A uniquely American story,” wrote Robert Redford, “with all the drama and color of a good novel. An American Idea: The Making of the National Parks is a compelling presentation of the long and difficult journey that resulted in one of our nation’s most significant accomplishments.”
ISBN: 0-7922-7974-3 National Geographic (Washington, DC) 2001
“A novel doesn’t get much closer to the headlines than this one,” wrote Bill McKibben, “or much closer to the truth about what counts in this economy. Kim Heacox provides a great read – and a great service – in this fine book.” The central character, Shannon DeShay, is the daughter of an oil geologist in Alaska who uncovers a plot to destroy the environmental movement, and must risk her life to save the man and the refuge she loves – in this case, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “Grishamesque” said Booklist, in praising this book for its pacing and intrigue. “This novel is superb in many ways,” wrote Jonathan Waterman, “refreshingly original, well-plotted, with interesting characters who are richly imagined. Caribou Crossing is our new Monkey Wrench Gang, and Kim Heacox our northern Edward Abbey.”
ISBN: 0-944197-70-1 Companion Press/WinterWren Books (Bishop, CA) 2001
Shakleton: The Antarctic Challenge
“Those who read this excellent book,” wrote Sir Edmund Hillary, “cannot but be overwhelmed by a story of a remarkable character.” That central character happens to be Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, once called “the most successful failure in polar exploration.” He never achieved his goal (of reaching the South Pole, or traveling across the continent by sled dog and ski), but he never lost a man under his command. This book explores his outrageous Endurance expedition of 1914-16 (a story of epic survival), and his other three journeys to Antarctica as well, how he became who he was, a leader who inspired his men to never give up. Illustrated with color and historical black & white photographs from the likes of Frank Hurley and Herbert Ponting.
ISBN: 0-7922-7536-5 National Geographic (Washington, DC) 1999
Antarctica: The Last Continent
For the first time in more than 100 years, the National Geographic Society dedicated an entire book to the coldest, windiest, highest, driest, least populated, and most remote corner of the world. This book still serves as an excellent primer for anyone wanting to travel to “the last continent.” The introduction describes three Antarcticas, the biological, the geographical, and the spiritual, each with its own magic and boundaries, waiting “at the bottom of the world, locked in cold storage, demanding new sensibilities if we are to understand it, appreciate it, protect it… Wilderness is not a political designation here, it’s an essential truth.” Over 200,000 copies sold.
“Alaska light, like Alaska itself, is rich with extremes…” begins a photographic book that took six years to complete. “It makes children of Alaskans who are otherwise automated by commerce and calendars. It snaps them into rhythms ancient and nearly forgotten; a time long ago when every human lived in close reciprocity with the earth, to the air and water, seals and songbirds, snow and silence…” The 112 color photographs in this book cover Alaska from Admiralty Island National Monument to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The text is organized into five lively essays and 28 story captions, with the last six pages dedicated to a timeline of Alaska history. As Bradford Washburn wrote, “Kim Heacox’s work instantly conveys to the reader not only his ability as a photographer, but also his love of the country. This book is just plain gorgeous.”
ISBN: Companion Press (Bishop, CA) 1998
Alaska’s Inside Passage
This large exhibit-format photography book (10”x14”) covers Alaska’s famous Inside Passage, from Ketchikan to Skagway, with colorful, sharp images (many taken with medium-format cameras) of intimate coves and seaside hamlets, tidewater glaciers and humpback whales, brown bears and flower meadows, sun-struck mountains and gleaming rainforest temples. Four essays accompany the photos; stories about traveling and living in Alaska, about John Muir and Tlingit Indian legends, totem poles and Chilkat blankets. Alaska’s Inside Passage is now the second-most popular cruising destination in the world (after the Caribbean), and offers vacationers wild, open scenery from the comfort of a luxury cruise ship or tour boat. A perennial strong seller, with more than 70,000 copies sold.
ISBN: Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co. (Portland, OR) 1997
Visions of Wild America
The American landscape, its wildness has made us inventive. Its vastness has made us bold. Its great teachers, concerned voices, have told us who we are, where we came from, and where, in the presence or absence of wildness, we might go. This book – with each chapter as a stand-alone mini-biography – celebrates a chorus of those voices, from Emerson to Thoreau to Muir, with Rachel Carson, Robert Marshall and Edward Abbey thrown in to spice things up. Visions of a Wild America has sold over 200,000 copies and, continues to sell in national parks across the country. Many colleges and universities use it for a textbook in environmental studies.
ISBN: National Geographic (Washington, DC) 1996
Winner of the 1993 Benjamin Franklin Book Award for Nature and Science, this photo book has sold more than 40,000 copies and garnered generous praise. “These one hundred photographs,” wrote the Fairbanks Daily News Miner, “reveal what makes Denali National Park worth preserving. The flowers, grizzly bears, birds, mountains, rivers, sunsets, and rainbows jump off the pages in crisp detail.” In Denali reminds us that places like this – immense, open, wild, and free from the mark of man – are among the most valuable heritages we can save. This is a sister book to Alaska Light.
ISBN: 0-944197-18-3 Companion Press (Bishop, CA) 1992
Cover Photo Not Available – This large exhibit-format photography book (10”x14”) celebrates the spirit and love of dog sledding in Alaska, not just the famous Iditarod Race, but also the many races and activities that serve as qualifying events for mushers who want to run the Iditarod. A two-page map shows the routes of the most well-known races. The photography is bright and sharp, accompanied with lively chapters about the history of dog sledding, including the story of the famous 1925 serum run to Nome, and a chapter that puts the reader on the sled, and still another chapter as a collection of fun quotes about dog sledding in Alaska.
ISBN: Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co. (Portland, OR) 1991