The Outside Passage
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When Tara Marconi leaves South Philadelphia on a whim to travel to Alaska for a job in a salmon hatchery, she quickly learns the cardinal rule on Baranof Island: "Work longer and harder than the person, usually male, beside you. And you'll do fine." Eager to prove herself, Tara works her way up at a cannery, studies subsistence with a native Tlingit hunter and gatherer, and earns a job on a boat crew. One by one, she finds that all of them want more from her than she is willing to give.

As Tara develops into a strong, work-hardened fisherwoman, she struggles with how to square her life in Alaska with her growing desire to return to Philadelphia. Is home something you can build with your own hard work, or is it something you're born into?

An excerpt from author Brendan Jones' forthcoming debut novel, The Alaskan Laundry, this Ploughshares Solo explores the wilderness and fishing industry of America's last frontier, a land of exceptional beauty and deep human need.


Brendan Jones is from Sitka, Alaska, where he commercial fishes and works on restoring his home, a World War II tugboat. He founded Greensaw Design & Build, a Philadelphia-based company specializing in building with reclaimed material. He graduated from Oxford University, and has published pieces in Fine Woodworking, Narrative, and The Huffington Post, and recorded commentaries with NPR. He is currently a Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford University. His novel, The Alaskan Laundry, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Spring 2015.
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