Recommended Reading

The Beautiful West and the Beloved by God.”

So now post medication and looking through pages (many dog-eared) again I am struck by a book in two halves that can’t live without each other. Helen Humphrey has her latest start with an auto-fiction exploration of how she came to write A Machine Without Horses, And then tells the story in the second half. Ondaatje’s War light, and Divisidero before that also two halves of the apple. Michael Springate‘s 2014 novel The Beautiful West and the Beloved by God  stands well in their company.

The first half is set in Montreal including characters from or near Brandon, and the intentional family and diversity of friendships that are possible in Montreal. I was lulled into a comfort zone, even as the conversations in the first half were tackling the subjects of difference, war and religion. I like conversation like this in literature because they do actually happen in (human) nature. I like good sentences and good dialogue, which don’t always go together, but here they keep fine company. I realized how much things were going to change when Mahfouz is arrested and disappeared with the complicity of the Canadian government in Egypt, and I put the book down. I find passages of violence hard to read, and easier to write and here we’re back to what my life experiences bring to any text I read, being bullied as a kid makes me respond quite emotionally, especially or maybe particularly if it’s by unjust and oppressive power and force. While being suffocated in a snow bank as a kid is not like adult and professional torture, amndI’m still alive to bitch and moan about it.

Writing the inevitable isn’t as easy as it sounds, and has nothing to do with predictability. A story, even one with two halves, has an internal logic or rhetoric, if you like of its own. It is easy to bugger that up by working against what the story wants to do. I’ve had the predictable/inevitable discussion with David Bergen about his book Stranger, and it would be interesting to read these together. I know this is too much for facebook, but not enough people read what I have to say here so I’ve posted it here  and on Face-Book. This one I can alter more easily, and add too as I have other ‘thoughts’ about this book.  Now, back to Independent People.

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