George Elliott Clarke - George and Rue (C)

I can’t remember who recommended this to me, but it was on my “To Read” list when I was trolling for a new Canadian writer to follow Babiak. Intrigued by the setting (eastern Canada), the era (post-War 1940s), and the characters (brothers, of Mi’kmaq and African descent), I went with George and Rue.

The novel shifts seamlessly back into the killers' pasts, recounting a bleak and sometimes comic tale of victims of violence who became killers, a black community too poor and too shamed to assist its downtrodden members, and a white community bent on condemning all blacks as dangerous outsiders.

Favourite Quote/ Scene

Setting is king in this book. It’s a time, place, and community that are rarely explored in literature and Clarke’s prose is appealing enough that it’s a good read for those reasons alone. 


The publisher descriptions do the book a bit of a disservice, setting it up as a rollicking crime adventure when it’s a much darker, slow-paced character study.

Fun Fact: I happened to pick up this book the same week Clarke was a guest on Canadaland Commons. It’s a great interview.

What’s Next?

Before I delve deeper into Canadian literature, I want to visit Margaret Atwood’s Survival - both for the analysis and to add a female voice to this thread.

Neil Forkey - Canadians and the Natural Environment to the Twenty-First Century (A)

I am always reading at least two books at once - one audiobook, one print/ e-book. Inevitably, my threads cross over and the audiobook thread leads to print and vice versa. This is the first book of my “A” thread, which started the year off as the print/ e-book thread.

Since 2016 is the first year that I’m not in school in over a decade, I am really looking forward to having time to explore more books in my field, and not be so locked into required reading for classes. I started off with Forkey because I’d used one chapter of this book in a research project last year and couldn’t wait to dig into the rest of it.

Canadians and the Natural Environment to the Twenty-First Century is a great introduction to the relationship between this place called Canada, the people who live and have lived in it, and the influence of the environment on culture, laws, policy, and art. There are lengthy sections describing visual and literary arts and the influence of environment. It provides a good overview of historical concepts of “environmentalism” and “conservation” and “nature”. 

It’s non-fiction, but not crushingly academic, and a pretty fast read. Pretty much “required reading” for anyone interested in the environment and Canadian culture.

What's Next?

As I finished the Forkey book, my audiobooks were shifting into nonfiction, so my next read will be something“Canadian-ish”, but fiction.