Monday, 1 August 2016

"Barkskins" - Annie Proulx's latest novel about the forest

A lot of people die many of them you won’t care about. Also random deaths.  There’s a lot of those
too.  Over and over again in many different forms; disease, infection (there’s more than one of those) and accidents (again, lots of those, and one (ho hum) heartattack.  Few of the characters are sympathetic, except of course, the indigenous peoples and forget about rooting for them.  Mostly, it’s a story about the forest.  It begins with seeming infinite expanses that eventually get reduced to what we witness today. 
The story involves two families, the Sels who are indigenous and live in harmony with the forest and the Dukes, who exploit it.  One lives in poverty or close to it.  The other with incredible wealth.  The one happy and then torn from their indigenous roots by policies such as the establishment of residential schools.  The other unhappy with a lifestyle that would be the envy while still wanting more.  All the while, the forest, the lifeblood of our world is quickly disappearing.  This is a story about two lifestyles, one that lives in harmony with the forest and the other that believes it to be infinite and meant only for the exploited for its wealth.  A book to be read to learn about the history of the Canadian lumber industry rather than entertainment. 

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