Thursday, February 26, 2009

What My Wife Is Reading: Essays and Exams

Last week my wife didn't get to any of the books she was reading - we had a family visit followed by marking of essays and preparing an exam. However, she did have to re-read a house favourite, Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson, in preparation for the next set of essay topics for her class. Monkey Beach centres around a teenager dealing with the loss of her older brother, who mysteriously vanished at sea. Set in a Native community on B.C.'s West Coast, Robinson ties together a modern setting with Haisla lore "into a multilayered story of loss and redemption" (from the jacket). I really liked it - it is another example of a Canadian novelist using the landscape as an additional character in the story - the shadows of the forest and the darkness of the sea are mystical elements that play as much a part of Lisamarie's story than her mother, uncle or cousin. My wife also liked it, hence teaching it for her class. Robinson's writing is dark and violent but also hilarious - Monkey Beach is a coming of age story centred around a teenager, and every emotion that a teenager feels - anger, confusion, violence, fear, love - is represented well. My wife also had the opportunity to meet Robinson at a conference, which is pretty cool. Robinson was dark and hilarious herself, making inappropriate jokes about her own depression at a breakfast meet and greet.
Update on the other books my wife is reading: Watchmen is still going and will be read, as will the Michael Chabon book, which is so far funny but also dense ("and epic" my wife chimes in). And 2666, for all its critical acclaim, is back on the shelf. I suspect it requires more of a focused read, perhaps when classes are over. More next week!

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