Shopping cart is empty.

Birchbark Blog

Victim of Narrative

Louise Erdrich - Sunday, January 31, 2010
Our first book and supper club selection was Too Much Happiness, by Alice Munro.  I chose the book because I am a great admirer of Alice Munro and because I love short stories.  She never lets me down.  Mordant, ordinary, strange, funny, offhandedly sublime.  The two nights of book club discussion were so much better than I'd feared (as an introvert).  The people who came were tremendous and they had loads to say so I didn't have to carry the conversation at all.  Elation!  And I must say that the dinner by Kenwood Cafe was utterly delicious and left me warm and happy.  But was there too much happiness?  Well, the title is found in the last story of the book -- possibly the last words of a female mathematics genius.   Too much happiness, indeed.

Yet my distress over my addiction continues, and I seek some affirmation that will free me from the endless Aubrey/Maturin series of sea novels about The British Navy, a series well known as the tar baby of narrative (too much boredom?  Alas, no, vertiginous sea battles!  Utterly compelling characters, both male and female)  I've known relationships to founder on these rocks.  Marriages to beat against the lee shore of these novels and succumb.  Once you've started, with Master and Commander (forget the movie), you'll be keel hauled right in and there goes your winter.  You'll be a victim of narrative.

Coming up in May: the publication of Mohamed's Ghosts, by the young old-school prize-winning journalist Stephan Salisbury.  His book is about all of us -- victims of narrative following 9/11.  He cared to think about what was happening to the ordinary people who belong to a mosque, struggle to be American and to follow their beliefs as well.  This is a wrenching and outrageous story of our own shadow country conjured out of fear.

If I can unstick myself from Patrick O'Brian I will let you know how I did it.  I'm going to check out a 12 step sea novel program . . .  
Anonymous commented on 02-Feb-2010 01:23 PM
hoka hey! fight the good fight against surfeit of PO'Brian. My wife and i love the dog page-- how about a dog blog? next time we come to Minn/StPaul, we'll drop by (we're in Los Angeles).
Marlee Atkinson commented on 12-Feb-2010 11:43 AM

Just recently heard about your new novel (which I will order from Birchbark), and wanted to send out a congrats to you from Austin Peay State University. We all miss you and hope the best for you in the coming years. I must admit that your visiting was one of the best experiences of my college education. Thank you, thank you, thank you! -Marlee Atkinson (the redhead)
Scarlet commented on 19-Feb-2010 02:33 AM
Honestly, there is no escaping Aubrey/Maturin. I devoured the series three years ago and now I'm listening to them (wonderfully read by Simon Vance). It has launched me on a hopeless Napoleonic Wars and sea novel obsession. I thought that surely I would be tired of it by now, but the fascination continues.
ann commented on 09-Mar-2010 08:22 AM
Addiction is as addiction does-I want to suffer from Tiger Woods
illness. Alas millions of dollars are not coming my way right now.
I do enjoy your illustrations as in your National Geographic book and hope that you continue this expression of your thoughts..Alice Munro's book has so many stories that were published earlier and I did read some of them and what is your next selection for discussion?
P S Susan's hospitality impressed me and your store is wonderful !
Post a Comment!

Canoe Family

Recent PostsRSS


The Blue Sky Population support japan Birchbark Books Master Butchers Singing Club peculiar touches of green and gold Chickadee Minnesota Botany Remarkable Trees Greenland incarnation Too Loud A Solitude tree books British Navy neighborhood Tree Houses Zombies Kenwood Gardens Brown Dog how good looking you are Gail Caldwell Dartmouth Vic Glover Kabul The Ojibwe Dogs Love Easter Island health care reform leaves and snow H2Oil Let's Take the Long Way Home show your love solstice, Thomas King Small Bookstores as Commons Kate DiCamillo Keystone XL Islam city of books monkey in a dryer Collective Denial Anton Treuer Native People Bill Moyers Journal graphix Stephen Salisbury book and dinner club Hilary Mantel More Remarkable Trees Bohumil Hrabal Ojibwemowin Nemesis Tar Sands National Book Award Gary Clement Peak Oil Anishinabe favorite book Book Review pilgrims euphoria north dakota Our Knowledge Is Not Primitive The Transition Handbook post holiday green The Birchbark House Green Team friends Roberto Bolano Ojibwe spring School Gardens Hillary Clinton Victory Gardens NACDI:All My Relations S.C. Gwynne Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge Aubrey/Maturin Czech Writer china The Wealth of Nature knowledge Wendy Makoons Geniusz aquifer Unnatural Disasters Crushing Books Fireworks President Obama thank you friends cafe closing Empire of the Summer Moon Ha Jin 2666 adventure Interview Mohamed's Ghosts Louise bill mckibben sweden local economy boarding school The Game of Silence Alice Munro plants the most romantic city in the world Jim Harrison Wastepaper Philip Roth joy Rare Books Aza The Royal Prussian Library Video Anishinabemowin Climate Change devoted customers Wolf Hall customers The Round House Ice anniversary Milkweed Press Alan Weisman coyote gratitude State Troopers The Porcupine Year france Mankato Powwow twins Peak Water Guthrie Theater Chitra Divakaruni fresh water Native Arts favorite tree germany William Trevor trees cafe Michael Jackson post holiday reads ependent Minneapolis photography favorite dog Pembina Poetry Gryphon Press mississippi Nero E.L. Doctorow Emily Johnson Catalyst language revitalization Bleak House Beth Dooley Afghanistan Makoons birchbark house series ireland Patrick O'Brian Education Light in August Keepers of the Trees ptsd italy The Resilient Gardener This Green World Canada gardens Women and Trees Up Late Again buffalo thanks World on the Edge Magers and Quinn The Farmer's Daughter Too Much Happiness