Friday, September 20, 2013

The Book that is a Name

At last I can say that I've read Klee Wyck, by Emily Carr.  It only took me five years to pick up the book after receiving my camp name, but I can now say that I have read it.
Image of book cover from Amazon.
Straight up, I'll say it wasn't what I expected.  I received the book from one of my good friends a few years ago.  She knew that my camp name is KleeWyck and when she saw the book in the store, she told me she thought of me and had to get it.  Though I was and am still very grateful of the gift, I approached the book with tentative steps.  I admit I was making generalizations at the start and I wasn't sure I wanted to read a book from the early-mid 1900s.  My past experiences with such literature has not always led me to hold high esteem for the authors of the period.  Of their day, I understand that they were often great, but writing styles have changed with the times and I'm not as engaged as I am with other more current works.  It's a sad truth, but true nonetheless.

My initial (mis)perception of Klee Wyck those few years ago was that it was one story.  I remember flipping through the pages a few weeks after receiving the gift and seeing the random spurts of dialogue and thinking, What if I don't like it?  I know I'm entitled to my opinion and if I don't like it, then I don't like it, but as my camp name is KleeWyck, I felt the need to like my name sake.  Maybe somewhat silly, but I was in part scared to open the pages and find that to be the case.

Carr's book is a series of short stories--well, not event stories really.  They are snapshots of events that occurred in Carr's life.  This was a pleasant surprise as it meant I was free to come and go whenever I so chose.  I could read one from the back then one from the front.  I could also read one now and then pick it up again in a month or two.  The freedom to come and go, especially as school was starting up again, was nice.

As I read through the many stories, I was struck by Carr's honesty.  She didn't sugar coat what people said--especially what the white missionaries said about the Indians.  She wrote with a pure innocence and I really enjoyed her use of descriptive language.  In the forward, Kathryn Bridge said that Carr would use her brief sketches to help with her paintings and I could tell.  Some of the images were vivid with comparisons I wouldn't have thought of and I'm really glad I read the book.  If you have the chance, I recommend reading this book.  It gives a refreshing image of how the white-native relations were at the start of the 20th century and though simply written, is a powerful work.

In other, unrelated book news, for those wondering my friend found my bus pass and returned it to me a couple weeks ago.  I'm still not entirely sure how I lost it in the first place, but it is found and that's all that matters.

Until the next time,

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