Last month I mentioned three books I was hoping to read in August; so far I’ve only managed to complete two. “The Luminaries” will no doubt keep me occupied this fall.
Annie Proulx’s “Barkskins” ticked many genre sub-category boxes, including historical fiction, environmental science, indigenous people’s history, and economic policy. From 1693 to the present, the history of logging and timber management around the world, but mainly in the US and Canada, is the framework upon which this story is built. As the years progress and cultures shift, Annie Proulx also moves her language along, from barely English-speaking Dutch, French, and native North Americans, to sophisticated board rooms and ecologically curious college students. Below you’ll find a sample of Annie Proulx’s glorious prose. The ancient Mi’kmaq Kuntaw faces his death serenely:
“Kuntaw died on the most beautiful day in a thousand years. The October air was sweet and every faint breath a pleasure. Wind stirred and he said, ‘Our wind reaching me here.’ A small cloud formed in the west. ‘Our small cloud coming to me.’ The hours passed and the small cloud formed a dark wall and approached. A drop fell, another, many, and Kuntaw said, ‘Our rain wetting my face.’
His people came near him, drawing him into their eyes, and he said, ‘Now…what…’ The sun came out, the brilliant world sparkled, susurration, liquid flow, stems of striped grass what was it what was it the limber swish of a released branch. What, now what. Kuntaw opened his mouth, said nothing, and let the sunlight enter him.”