Monday, January 14, 2008

Canadian Book Challenge, Part Three

The best excuse I can give is I got distracted. I was midway through 'The Torontonians' when I picked up Farley Mowat's 'Lost In The Barrens'. I read a little bit, nothing serious, just trying to get a taste of a book I loved years ago. Then I read a little more. Then I started taking it on the bus and proceeded to whip through it.

The verdict? A really good book and still worthy of devotion.

I was sort of nervous about this choice. Lost in the Barrens is one of those books that shaped my childhood. It helped fuel my passion for the north country in particular and travel in general. The idea of two youths living off the land appealed to me even more than the best Hardy Boys mystery. And I was a big Hardy Boys fan. To go back to it over twenty years later was something of a risky proposition. After all, 50's era stories involving natives generally were not known for being very progressive or even handed. Would I still like the book? Would it be just too anachronistic to enjoy?

The answer is yes to the first question and no to the second. What amazes me most going back is how respectful the tale is - respectful of the various cultures and supremely respectful of the natural environment.

Now let's be clear about one thing - this is still a tale that is best enjoyed by the preteen set. The story jumps right to the action and rushes along at a fair clip from episode to episode. While there is a great respect for nature, culture and history, the story never gets weighed down by an abundance of reflection.

That said, the book is fun and smart and should be recommended reading for all Canadian school kids.

Reading this book makes me realize I should probably go back and read other books that I have enjoyed. I usually get caught up in moving from new book to new book, always striving for the new rush and the fresh experience. I almost never go back to reread anything. In fact, there are only about 3 books that I will normally reread - Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, Laurence's The Diviners and Irving's A Widow for One Year. I'm thinking it's time I dusted off some of my other favourites for a change.

Now, I will finish off The Torontonians.

But first, it's time for bed. My day started at the dreadful hour of 4 A.M. and consisted of 16 hours of work bookended by early morning/late evening TTC commutes. I more than a little bit beat.
So long for now.

1 comment:

John Mutford said...

Perhaps surprisingly, I believe this is the first Mowat book chosen for the Canadian Book Challenge so far.

Like you, I'd be reluctant to go back and reread this-- it being a favourite childhood book for me as well. I've since read other Mowat books as an adult and not enjoyed them at all so I had assumed I probably wouldn't enjoy this one anymore.