We’re excited to announce the publication of a new Ploughshares Solo: “The Outside Passage” by Brendan Jones. The Ploughshares Solos series allows us to publish long essays and stories in a digital format. Recent Ploughshares Solos include “The Living” by Christopher Castellani and “The Genie at Low Tide” by Paul Byall. Visit our website to see all the Ploughshares Solos.
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.
Available on Kindle and Nook for $0.99.
An excerpt from the Solo:
At the Backdoor, she recreated those mornings with her father. Sitting with a bagel and slices of plum tomato sprinkled with chunks of peppercorns and sea salt, a smear of cream cheese on the rim of the plate. Newspaper spread out on the table before her. Sometimes she’d record her thoughts in a wire-thread journal she kept in her bookbag.
My wrists are changing, she wrote. From carrots to squash.
She wrote of the pea-sized salmon eggs, of laying them out in the black plastic discs and watching them hatch into fry, the finning bodies slipping into the water below. Of the mink lurking by the door of the hatchery, waiting to steal ingots of salmon smoked in an old refrigerator with strips of yellow cedar. And what of the gurgle of the water filter on the fish ladder, the astringent smell of WD-40 as she walked down the narrow stairs into the basement, the wind curling over the edge of Arrowhead, how an eagle floated in the updraft, as if in a block of ice.
In September she woke one morning to a sprinkling of snow on the cone of the volcano, and on Verstovia and the tops of Harbor and Gavan.
“Termination dust,” she told a wide-eyed freshman from Idaho. “Means summer’s terminated.”
About Brendan Jones:
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.
Interested in submitting a story for the series?
If you have a longer story or essay — roughly 6,000 to 25,000 words — please read our guidelines and submit online. Make sure you select “Pshares Solos: Long Story/Novella” from the drop down box under “genre.”
Ploughshares Solos Volume 1 Omnibus is now available! You can buy it at our website!