The Moon of Letting Go: and Other Stories

by Richard Van Camp | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9781894283939 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingPooker3wing of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on 12/30/2009
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingPooker3wing from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Purchased from McNally Robinson yesterday, the day they announced they'd filed for bankruptcy protection. Sad. I'll do my bit to keep my favourite Grant Park store open for business.

This is a hard cover book, without a dust jacket. I first noticed this lack of dust jackets in new business books and was not impressed. I like the dust jacket! However, for some reason I really do like the lack of it on this book. I like how the book feels in my hands (the roughness of the cover weave in the spine area and the smoothness of the artwork area).

This copy is signed by the author.

Journal Entry 2 by wingPooker3wing from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Friday, February 05, 2010
This is a magical book! Some of the magic is pure delight, some downright puzzling to me. Of the delightful variety is the very first story, "Show Me Yours". I first read "Show Me Yours" over at John Mutford's blog, The Book Mine Set. It was magical then. To find it as the first read in this book of stories immediately brought a smile to my face and it was just as delightful in the second reading. I am tempted to hang on to this book for this story alone so that I'll always have it, but I'd already planned to include this book in judygreeneyes' Native North American book box when it comes to me and I *am* excited about sharing the story. So I'll release the book to the box as planned.

However, so that I can go back and read it again and again, I am including a link to the story as it appeared in "The Walrus" magazine here.

I really hope this link stays true for a long long time.

On the puzzling side, was the story, "I Count Myself Among Them" where a man is seemingly welcomed by an Indian community only to be killed by them in a sacrificial ritual. Frightening and disconcerting. I didn't know quite know what to make of it.

However, I enjoyed all of the stories and most of them I found reassuring and uplifting. I was particularly interested in how the stories were organized in four categories (those being: healing, medicine, teaching and love) as in the four directions of the medicine wheel. I actually spent some time trying to decide in which direction each story best fit and that was a surprisingly enjoyable exercise. It is seldom that a story remains with me much longer than it takes to read it. Usually I found that there were aspects of each story that made it "qualify" for any of the directions.

I've never met Richard Van Camp, but I think of him as being a kind, fun-loving and respectful man. I appreciated his "Afterwords" wherein he acknowledges the people and events that were the inspiration for the various stories, all of which are individually dedicated to certain (sometimes several) named people. How humble and how wonderful.

As I say, I'll be sending this book on a journey soon and I hope that it will be shared with as many people as possible. I'm inclined to find an old baby picture of myself and stick it to the inside cover. I'd love it if all the folks who read this book after me would do likewise!

Journal Entry 3 by wingPooker3wing at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Saturday, June 19, 2010
I've selected this book to send to our Prime Minister for the "What is Stephen Harper Reading? BookCrossing Edition" release challenge. The following letter accompanies it.


The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2


Dear Mr. Harper,

You know I’ve been a little envious of you over the last few years. I’ve been following Yann Martel’s project of sending you a book every two weeks and there’s been more than a few occasions that I’ve checked in on his blog and thought to myself, “Gee, wouldn’t it be wonderful to receive all of those books.” Sometimes, it’s just that book. The first time I had that thought was at book #4, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart. I’d already read the first three he’d sent you but here was one I hadn’t read and by a Canadian author to boot! Apparently, a Canadian classic. How could a classic of Canadian literature have passed me by, I wondered.

In my adult years I’ve become something of a proponent of Canadian Literature. The vast majority of what I choose to read is by Canadian authors. It’s a deliberate decision on my part. I want to read Canadian books. I want to support Canadian authors, the Canadian publishing industry, Canadian booksellers. I’ve been known to walk into my local bookstore and demand to know why there were not more Canadian books on the shelves. I remember waltzing into Coles in downtown Winnipeg on March 22, 2009 and requesting a book by Gabrielle Roy – not a specific book, (although The Tin Flute would have been nice because I think that’s the only one of her books in English that I haven’t read) but any book. There was none. Not one book by a Manitoba author on what, I had read in the newspaper that day, was her 100th birthday.

I haven’t always been so seemingly patriotic in my reading material. It was with Dick and Jane and Sally and Spot and Puff that I learned to read. I loved those books but I am sure they were not by a Canadian author. Two Americans as it turns out. I don’t remember the first book by a Canadian I read in school. I suspect, back then, most school texts were authored by Americans. It might have been Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Stephen Leacock - required reading in high school. I do remember my teacher introducing the book to the class as being “Canadian” as though that was something new and remarkable. Perhaps it was. To tell you the truth though, I was not particularly enamoured by that book and haven’t, to this day, sought out anything more by Mr. Leacock. Perhaps I should give him another chance now that none of my reading is “required”.

I also have some vague recollection of reading a number of short stories that were written by Canadians and at that time were supposedly representative of “Canadian Literature”. They mostly dealt with themes of harshness, cold and isolation. “Snow” by Frederick Philip Grove comes to mind. But I, as a young Canadian woman, did not feel particularly represented by those works. They were interesting but did not speak to me. I did not feel burdened by such things.

The book that “turned me on” to Canadian writing was Surfacing by Margaret Atwood. That was well over thirty, maybe even closer to forty, years ago. It was one of those light-bulb-turning- on, Eureka! experiences. As I read the book, I found myself inwardly rejoicing: This is me. Margaret Atwood is thinking what I think. She is saying (if only I had the ability to speak so eloquently), what I would say. I am this woman. I am this woman in the Canadian woods. I am this woman in Canada, next to the almighty United States of America. I am this woman in Canada, on this planet. In this universe. In this natural world. I am.

No sooner than I discovered Margaret Atwood, in my longing to see myself in what I read, to relate to what I read, I found Margaret Laurence and Alice Munro. With them and a host of other Canadian authors to follow, I could say, yes, this is what it is to be a young Canadian woman.

As I say, that was decades ago. I am not so self absorbed today with the need to see my own personal self in what I read. I have expanded my desires in that regard to include you. Not you personally Mr. Harper, although you are not excluded. But the you that is my child, my neighbour, my friend, my fellow Canadian, my fellow human being.

Which brings me to the book that I am sending to you.

Two years ago, on June 23, 2008, two days after National Aboriginal Day, and shortly after you had, on behalf of all Canadians, delivered a formal apology to the victims of the residential school system, Yann Martel sent you book #32. It was The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway, a Cree playwright and novelist from Manitoba. I remember thinking then what a perfect book to send. Indeed I had just read the book a few months previously. In fact I have over, the last several years, been reading a number of books by native authors. I am intrigued by native mythology and spirituality, especially the role of the trickster or shapeshifter often present in native stories. I am intrigued but I still do not fully understand. But what appealed to me most about The Rez Sisters was Tomson Highway’s stated objective in writing it. He said he wanted to show life on the reserve as “cool” and “show and celebrate what funky folk Canada’s Indian people really are.”

Today, on June 19, 2010, two days before National Aboriginal Day and on the final day of the four-day Truth and Reconciliation National Event here in Winnipeg, I am sending you The Moon of Letting Go and other stories. It is a book of short stories by Richard Van Camp, a Dogrib (Tlicho) Dene writer from the Northwest Territories. I thought perhaps, with all the books you’ve already received from Mr. Martel and his colleagues, you might appreciate some shorter works for whatever few moments of stillness you may still have in your busy days.

Coincidentally, Richard Van Camp participated in a storytelling session along with some other native authors at the Truth and Reconciliation Event on Thursday night, June 17th. I wished I could have gone to hear him. I did attend the event on June 16th. My purpose in going, as a middle-aged white woman, I thought, was simply to show support for the victims by being there and listening to their stories. And, possibly to learn. Although I did really think that I knew as much as I needed to know, if not as much as there was to know. I have read of the horrible things that happened to some of the children at the residential schools. I have, in my own line of work, seen something of the effects of being removed from one’s family – not knowing how to love, not knowing how to talk to one’s parents or how to care for one’s children. I have heard some of the stories with my own ears from some of my own native women friends. Yet, I was not prepared. On Wednesday, June 16th during my some of my own moments of stillness, I stood in the Learning Tent and the Inuit Tent and I read the stories and looked at the photographs of survivors I have never met. The stories were made up of simple statements like, “We were so far away.” And the pictures themselves although weathered by time were not unlike the school photos of my children or myself. There were captions such as, “That’s X in the middle. The boy beside him was Y. Y disappeared one day. We never saw him again. They said he died in the hospital.” And as I read, tears silently slid down my cheeks, my neck and into my shirt collar.

Richard Van Camp’s stories in the book I am sending you were, for me, very uplifting, even joyful at times, although not all of them. Some I found perplexing and unsettling. I was particularly taken with the first one, “Show Me Yours.” All of the stories are good but if you only read one, I’d recommend that one. It is a "feel good" story. I was charmed by the very first two paragraphs:

Saw northern lights last night. Nice and big across the sky: 1:30. Green.

We saw baby ones trying to swim like little faint feathers so we
helped them by rubbing our fingernails together and whistling and they
swam, boy. The northern lights swam and reached across the sky and it
was the stairway to heaven kind, the kind that you can see the spirits of
those who have passed on walking up, up.

I don’t know if you can see the northern lights in Ottawa. You can here on the prairies. Perhaps you saw them when you visited up north not so long ago. I imagine up there they are even brighter and more awe inspiring than we see here. But even so, many a time as my daughters and I have driven across the prairie at night on our annual summer “girls only” vacation, we’ve stopped on the side of the highway so we can get out of the car and stretch our legs and marvel as the northern lights dance across the sky. Next time, if it looks like they need help, we’ll whistle and rub our fingernails together. Softly and quietly, so as not to offend.

If you do read the story you’ll find the real charm is how such a funny simple thing – the wearing of one’s baby picture around one's neck - can bring such happiness.

I was inclined to attach my own baby picture to the inside of this book when I sent it on but I’ve changed my mind. Instead you’ll find the picture of a young native man and his infant son - the same photograph graces the Truth and Reconciliation web site. I don't know these two personally but one of the hopes I have for them is that they will always be able to pick up a book and say, "Yes! This is me!"

An apology is such a simple thing, really. Yet it can have a such profound effect. So it is with the sharing of stories. I hope you enjoy these.


Yours truly,


Pooker3

Encl: one inscribed and labeled book

Journal Entry 4 by wingPooker3wing at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Monday, June 21, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (6/21/2010 UTC) at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

I've entrusted Canada Post to deliver this wonderful book to the Prime Minister of Canada.

It was sent as part of the "What is Stephen Harper Reading? BookCrossing Edition" release challenge. You can read about the challenge here .


To the finder of this book:

Welcome to the wonderful and wacky world of BookCrossing! Here you'll find a unique and worldwide community of book lovers sharing their books. This book is now yours! Read it, enjoy it. Keep it or pass it on to someone you know or even release it into the wild. If you make a journal entry (either anonymously or as a BookCrossing member) all previous readers of this book will be notified by e-mail and can follow this book on its travels. BookCrossing is free to join, completely confidential (you are known only by your screen name and no one is ever given your email address) and it's a whole lot of fun!

I hope you enjoy this book and the BookCrossing experience.

Journal Entry 5 by wingPooker3wing at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Wednesday, August 18, 2010
On August 18, 2010 I received the following letter dated August 12, 2010 from the Office of the Prime Minister:

Dear Ms [my real name]:

On behalf of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, I would like to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence, with which you enclosed a copy of the book entitled, *The Moon of Letting Go* by Richard Van Camp.

Thank you for sending this book to the Prime Minister with your encouraging words. Your thoughtful gesture is most appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

T. Lewkowicz
Executive Correspondence Officer

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