Christine Byl

byl2015 Alaska Literary Award

Christine Byl is the author of Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods, which was a finalist for the Willa Award in non-fictionHer prose has appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, The Sun, Crazyhorse, and other journals. Byl  earned her MFA in fiction from the University of Alaska-Anchorage and has received awards from the Alaska State Council on the Arts, Rasmuson Foundation, Breadloaf, and Fishtrap. She lives with her husband and an old sled dog north of Denali National Park, where she owns and operates a small trail design and construction company. She is currently at work on a novel.

From Lookout, a novel in progress

The summer of the fires, Cody Kinzler woke to light. In mid-July, bedtime and morning looked alike, crickets and stars hidden by sun, the only thing visible the strut of day. No matter how early Cody came downstairs her father was outside. Always. She often ate breakfast alone–Louisa sleeping in and their mother with the hens or in the garden–and she looked out the window to see the weather unchanged. Hot. Blue. Bright.

Cody was nine, old enough to get her own cereal or make her toast dark and hard how she liked it, a soft-boiled egg waiting warm in the pan, mashed on top. Her mother said too much salt; Cody liked it between her teeth like sand. Her eggs slid down fast and every morning she went out to the stable to help her father with the stock before he left for work. Josiah bent around the stall gates and horses’ necks like wire; she watched him close. The animals’ morning noises hushed as they fell on their food and the sun through the barn cracks shined the dust in the air. When her father left for the hardware store Cody returned to the house to see if someone had appeared—her mother from outside, Louisa from her bedroom, wordless and sticky-eyed. Louisa slept like it was her job.