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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday Book Day

I can remember being in high school - I don't remember what year it was only I know it wasn't 11th grade, because I remember exactly what books we did that year. My 11th grade teacher told us he picked the easiest book from the list (The Lord of the Flies) and he picked the hardest (Heart of Darkness). So it was 10th or earlier and we were doing Canadian fiction that year.

The first book we did was Roughing it in the Bush by Suzanna Moodie. It was the fictionalized story of her life as an earlier Canadian settler. She settled fairly near to where I now live, which is actually pretty cool. The book isn't gripping, but it is interesting (and I bet I'd get a lot more out of it now than I did as a teenager.)

The next book we did was The Stone Angel by Margaret Lawrence, which was a much easier to read book than the first. The material was less dry, but it still wasn't super gripping. But honestly, I don't remember much about it except that we did it.

I'm not sure why we didn't do anything by Timothy Findley, Farley Mowat, Margaret Atwood or Michael Ondatje (just to name a few who are favorites of mine). Let's not forget Robertson Davies, Stephen Leacock, Mordicai Richler, Alice Munro...

I had to catch those on my own -- The Handmaid's Tale, which I picked up on my because it was near future sci-fi and almost everything Farley Mowat wrote while I was an early teen starting with Never Cry Wolf., or  discover them in University - Timothy Findlay's Famous Last Words led me to Not Wanted on the Voyage and The Butterfly Plague, and Michael Ondatje's Coming Through Slaughter forever changed how I looked at fiction. All these books made me excited to read them, they made me excited about writing. The whole premise of Famous Last Words was so cool, while the narrative of Coming Through Slaughter taught me that voice doesn't need grammar, and that you can tell so much about your character simply through their voice. Not to mention the unreliable narrator...

It's too bad some of these books weren't what was on the curriculum in high school, because if it had been, I would have discovered all these amazing authors a lot sooner.

As an aside, I also did Heart of Darkness in my first year of CEGEP (high school goes to 11th grade in Quebec, then you do two years of CEGEP if you're going into University or a trade school if you aren't) and in two different classes my first year of University. After four readings and dissections in three years, I was (and remain) dead sick of the book.

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1 comment:

  1. Honestly can't see you ever liking Heart of Darkness! Do you have a list of current favorite Canadian authors? I have a list of Alaskan writers that I read ... some are Great ... some are OK ... but I try to keep up with Alaska. I Love western Canada because I've been there since the 60's! Canadians have such a unique voice ... why I could live there ... happily! Have read Roughing It in the Bush ... when I first came to Alaska. Bought it in Whitehorse Yukon to read while being driven to Fairbanks. I want to find Coming Through Slaughter. Love unique voices in books! Have a humping good day! Love from Alaska