Three Day Road

We walk through the snow, follow our trail out to the traplines by the willows. 

Usually I take my time between reading books by the same author, especially when the themes are similar. But if someone offers you the book you want to read.. why not? So Boyden and a story of the First Nations People, again.

This time it’s the Great War, World War One. The reader doesn’t only get the terrors of massacre and destruction, but also the alienated experience of being the other, only allowed around because it’s necessary. War is a beast that doesn’t mind who its fed on, after all.

It’s Nephew’s story, on and off the battlefields, before and after. It’s Auntie’s/Niska’s story, a woman alien within her own. Stories are what bind them, stories, beautiful and brutal, are what the reader gets.

The person told me that Boyden’s other work was better, was right. There’s no room for air or boredom in Three Day Road, repetition prevented by devolution and destruction of characters and land.

I’m really going to leave Boyden be for now, but I’m glad that I gave him a second chance.

Three Day Road, Joseph Boyden, Penguin Books 2005

The Orenda

We had magic before the crows came.

My first (consciously experienced) Canadian author, very probably the first story I read about the First Nations People. Now that I’m in Canada I feel kind of obliged to know more about the history of the country, and what better way than to discover it through (fictional) stories?

The Orenda tells about ‘New France’ and its influence on the native people of the country in the seventeenth century. Also known as colonialism, European diseases wiping out populations and destroying land and communities. We view this happening through three story tellers: Snow Falls, a daughter from an enemy tribe, taken. Bird, an important man in his community and the one that adopts her to fill the place that the deaths of wife and children left. And Christophe, the Jesuit priest that so very desperately wants “those sauvages” to come to the light that’s God.

It’s not an easy story to read, and not just because as the reader you know only how much more destruction will follow. Boyden starts out very strong and appealing, but seems to get lost near the middle of the book. Situations start to feel repetitive, and, even though I understand that we have to learn about the scary fundamentalism of the white saviour, Christophe’s chapters start to drag like he’s lost in a desert.

The Orenda is loosely a part of a trilogy, and I have already been told that the other two are (much, much) better. In this case, there’s still enough interest to give an author another chance. And maybe The Orenda can be edited in the meantime.

 

The Orenda, Joseph Boyden, Penguin Groups 2013