ISBN: 9780973632118 Global Overview for this book
3 journalers for this copy...
What a pity that the cover picture does not show up here. It's quite lovely - snow covered bushes on a white cover, the only colour being a yellow five-of-diamonds type fishing spoon. Am I about to be hooked and reeled in? I wonder.
Now here I am, about a month after having read it, hoping to provide a semi-sensible review. I'm buggered.
Now, I did start out with all good intentions and actually made some notes. But of course making notes requires:
a) the lugging around of paper (preferably the paper you started with), and
b) pen, and importantly,
c) the discipline to actually STOP reading long enough to transcribe said notes.
I managed a). In fact my notes formed my bookmark as I was reading and I've still got them!
From my notes I can tell you that my first laugh out loud moment came at page 8 when Danny arrives in the "North-West Territory" and is handed the Official Explorer's Map. I just went back and re-read that passage and laughed again. Twice. For those of you reading this review and wondering just what's so funny, you'll just have to fill it in for yourself. Or, hey, read the book!
I did not manage b) or c) past page 49 as evidenced by the fact that my notes stop there. I noted at page 49 that Nora's mother says to her that she never listens to her and if she did Nora'd be a dentist. A dentist! What kind of twit would have their kid be a dentist? Everyone knows dentists have the highest suicide rate of all the professions. But that does bring me to the substance of my review. The issue of twits that is.
It came to me as I was reading that my own father was in this book. I saw him in many of the characters and, no disrespect to the author, I thought he might even have written the book himself. On second thought, my father does not have near the vocabulary as the author to have written this exact book. As an aside, one of the fun things about this book was the liberal sprinkling of words I had not heard used in eons and words I had never seen before. Dottle, for example. When's the last time you heard that word? And "scrofulous" has now been added to my own vocabulary. I had to look that one up. What a great word!
But back to my father. My father was born and raised in a small town in the Lake of the Woods district of Northwestern Ontario as indeed was I. He hunted and fished and lived for the most part "off the land". He had nothing but respect for the land and lake and the flora and fauna and he taught that by example to his children. My father was not a twit. My father was "The Hill Country King".
Interestingly enough though, his parents owned a tourist camp and it was from the avails of the summer tourist trade that my grandparents supported their family. Every summer throngs of tourists would arrive, primarily from Manitoba and the U.S., hauling their Chris Crafts and Lunds, Yamahas and Mercs and the latest in fishing technology, their kids in their waterwings and wives in zinc ointment, in search of master angler "northerns". Silly twits. Who in their right mind is not simply annoyed to end up with a slimy old jack on their line? Mind you they came for the "walleyes" too and took them out of the lake, hand over fist, to be scaled and frozen and taken home. Tons of them really. That must have been before the limits were imposed I guess.
In any event, to their faces, my father was nothing but a friendly local, happy to swap fishing stories and give hints where they were biting, but I knew, and don't ask me how, but I knew of his disapproval of these tourists. Furthermore, if I knew the tourists were disliked, I knew that the doctors and lawyers and other wealthy folk who came from Manitoba and farther afield to buy up all the lakefront property were down right hated by my father. And so it was that my brother and I being four and five years old respectively would stand on the sidewalk of our little tourist town and keep an eye out for twits. When a car bearing Manitoba license plates happened to pass by, we would stick out our tongues, screw up our faces most fiercely and shout, "Prairie chickens!" with the intent that they would feel most unwelcome and go home.
I've often wondered what the folks in the cars thought about these two rude little hellions. I imagine they just rolled their eyes and dismissed us as "characters". Small towns are populated with characters. I suspect the tourists thought my dad was a character too. Characters are not twits though.
Yellowknife (the book), is full of characters and twits. I won't go through the cast and define who is a twit and who is not-a-twit, but I can tell you for example that Danny is not-a-twit despite his penchant for eating dog food. I've eaten dog food and I am not a twit. Granted it was those little milk bone treats (the vegetable ones are best) and not the odoriferous canned crap (shudder). Nor is the guy who developed the fancy fishing lure (Wool was it?)a twit. Generally speaking money grubbers are twits but if you are first a character and you devise some way of getting money out of the twits, then you are not-a-twit. My father was always inventing something designed to get twits to part with their money. Round-to-its were one of my favourites. How fun to say I'll have to get a round-to-it. Wouldn't you buy one?
Politicians are all twits of course. As are Americans. Apparently Manitobans fit the bill too, at least for my father. It was a sad day indeed when my father had to don suit and tie, move his family to the big city in Manitoba when he discovered it was hard to support a large family on berries and pickerel fillets and also pay taxes to the twits in government on all the property he'd managed to buy up before the Americans got it. But in time, knowing that my father could retire back to the hill country once his kids were grown up, we amused ourselves by sitting on our chesterfield in our tastefully appointed bungalow in suburbia and watching the Twitville parade go past our window every morning and evening. Moms and dads in suits and briefcases (Mom in heels!), kids in reeboks toting superhero lunch kits, all slogging through the Manitoba gumbo ('cause they hadn't paved the road yet) and growing a foot taller due to said mud just to get to the bus stop 1.2 kilometres down the road to catch the bus to get to work and school. We'd laugh and laugh, confident in the knowledge that although we too had to join the parade (for now), we were not twits. No. My father still had the best brass bedstead he'd found at the dump and I could still throw a line in the water and catch a fish on a dandelion.
Now what does all this have to do with Yellowknife? Damned if I know but thanks Steve! Loved it!
This is my second book by a male author (and eighth over all) read for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge, Eh?
I plan to release it into the wild soon, although probably not at the dump!
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
You'll find this Canadian treasure on the shelf in the loft.
Thanks for visiting tikkun-olum!
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
First book for my Canada Day challenge release