Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Review: The Map of My Dead Pilots

I checked this book out of the local library branch after reading the review Frank (N631S) had posted online.  The author, Colleen  Mondor shares her work experience in Alaska while working dispatch op's for a Fairbanks based commuter charter outfit.

I was wondering if I would enjoy this book as it started out kind of scattered but the more I read the more I found myself being pulled into the surroundings.This book quickly took me back to my younger days running a large horse stable that provided horses for the hack line and hundreds of horses for camps.  It was the camaraderie, the off beat humor, the sometimes raw stories of long nights at a bar, getting into trouble,the women and sleeping in horse trailers to keep warm or to get away from another hands snoring.  It's all coming back, triggered by this reading.

This book takes a look back at aviation history in Alaska and how much that history still plays in this modern age of flight. The pilots that risk it all for the company and the hard work with poor equipment bonding the crew together.

Elizabeth Burns wrote in her review, "This is as much about story, and the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of our lives and our choices, as it is about the high-risk stakes of flying in Alaska".

Mondor rolls back and forth relating to the many accident stories, and with her coworkers relives the accidents that built this wild Alaska history and sadly, in this modern day, took their friends. By retelling the stories it makes those lost live on, a twisted sort of honor or code that pilots seem to share. In the last chapter, Reckoning, Mondor writes, in my opinion, the most profound lines of the book.

Stories are funny because they won't let you ignore them; they demand to be written. And maybe  you think if you put them down, let them leave your head and put them on paper, then they will live forever. Maybe you can even cheat death that way.

Or maybe I'm just wondering if anybody still listens and wants to know who we were. Maybe I want to know if stories still matter or if the truth really can disappear with the dead and leave you standing there without any chance of ever knowing what really happened. No chance in hell of knowing anything at all.

Check this one out, it's a good read and it will make you think back on your life and the stories that make up your history.


Joyce said...

Despite the rather macabre title, the book sounds good. I'll be visiting the library. Thanks for the review.

Gary said...

Joyce, Thanks for checking out my review. Once you distance yourself from the title and the repeated pounding of life lost, the underlying story is a good read.