January 14th, 2010 - Sisters in the Wilderness

I've been reading for a Canadian literary contest recently.  If these stories are at all representative, it remains the case that the bulk of our literature is still set in the Canadian wilderness, or on the cusp of it—in small towns.  The great themes identified in Margaret Atwood's Survival (originally published in 1972) persist. 

There are stories set on lakes—frozen in winter, of menacing depth in summer—in pine forests, on rocky cliffs.  There are a startling number of encounters with animals—bears, moose and coyotes; loons, badgers and foxes—a greater range of animals than I have ever encountered except in my purse (stamped on coins and bills).

And I think, have we not evolved?  Are we all still "sisters in the wilderness," "lost in the barrens"?  I'm bored witless of these lonely primal battles: where are the cities?  Our diversity?  Our messy urban lives?

And just then, at the height of my irration, a flash of white—a deer's tail.  Four deer, in fact, nearing the house in which I sit reading, the only other life in evidence in this barren valley of snow and pine, just a sheet of glass between us.  I am awestruck.  Humbled.  Revealed a hypocrite. A liar.  



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