Eccentric Musings (jakaEM)

"I have undergone sharp discipline which has taught me wisdom; and then, I have read more than you would fancy." Emily Brontë


still figuring this place out - Jen W

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Currently reading

Friend of My Youth
Alice Munro
Progress: 115/288 pages
Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature
Margaret Atwood
Three Day Road - Joseph Boyden This is two of my favourite reads: a "futility-of-war" novel by a Native Canadian writer, and with a unique Native Canadian angle.

Xavier and Elijah are Ojibwe-Cree from "the North Country" (which in this case means James Bay area) who sign up for WW I, and - because of their hunting prowess - make for excellent warriors. Niska - X's auntie - welcomes a deeply changed X home, and does what she can to help X cope with all he has seen, suffered and lost.

The novel is about killing and healing and incredible, profound, spirit-driven love. Of the boys for each other; of Niska for her would-be sons, and for X in particular. Love and bonds that are forged in one kind of trauma and tested in another kind of hell. Of a way of life that is lost to all kinds of wemistikishiw slaughter and madness; of transition between one way of life and another, physical, cultural, spiritual.

Though I am not a masochist, both types of novels - the war novel, the Native Canadian novel - cause great pain and therefore they often feel cathartic, cleansing in some way. But more: like an atonement for my privileged whiteness and the luck of the draw time and place-wise.

This idea of privilege - and how it factors into reading choices - is an interesting one to me these days (as I look at my bookshelves stacked to the brim with female authors; goodreads having made me more acutely aware of gender aspects of writing and reading).

Boyden, with his sensitivity; his writing that contains such depth of raw emotion; his male-femaleness/female-maleness (as Woolf would say) - has pride of place next to Erdrich, Thomas King and Richard Wagamese; and novels like Marlantes' [b:Matterhorn|6411016|Matterhorn A Novel of the Vietnam War|Karl Marlantes||6599953], Vonnegut's [b:Slaughterhouse Five|4981|Slaughterhouse-Five|Kurt Vonnegut||1683562], Findley's [b:The Wars|29898|The Wars|Timothy Findley||1005136] and Wright's [b:Meditations In Green|297334|Meditations in Green|Stephen Wright||288484].