(12/1/01 12:27:21 pm)
I recently became aware of the novel "Bear" by Canadian writer Marian Engel and I'm wondering if anyone has read it and what they think of it. It's about a woman who has a relationship with a bear, conducted mostly in her head. This particular woman is an archivist and she's cataloguing the library of an early Ontario settler. The curious thing is that this settler has slipped pieces of paper, notes about the folkloric and mythological resonances of bears, into the books of his library and the notes fall out of the books at select intervals. They sort of structure the narrative this woman is making out of her circumstances.
Which is an idea/device I particularly like, if you think of it in terms of the library of Babel- folklore as the code, the rosetta stone that allows you to decipher all other cultural production(s).
(12/1/01 3:28:58 pm)
| re: Bear and letters|
Byatt's Possession, also full of folk and fairy tale references, uses this techinique to start the story. A struggeling scholar finds the draft of a letter by the poet he's studying in a text the poet used as a resource. The letter starts the journey, both of the deceased poet and the scholar. Later lost letter appearances fuel the plot.
(12/1/01 5:02:49 pm)
Is that a published book about half a dozen years ago? Quite sexy, and not at all off-putting. I could believe it as long as I didn't come up for air.
(12/2/01 5:58:05 am)
| Re: Bear|
Yes, I've read Bear. I thought it was odd but enchanting. Another terrific book you should definitely check out, Karen, is Wild Life by Molly Gloss, which won last year's Tiptree Award (for feminist genre fiction), which is about a woman writer in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the last century, and involves Big Foot mythology. It's an absolutely stunning book, gorgeously written. Gloss is a real writers' writer.