Saturday, November 13, 2010


I haven't read the book The Sentimentalists which won the Giller, published by our highly esteemed and principled local press . I had to go to the Gaspereau Press website to find out what the book was about since this hasn't been the subject of much of recent the press I have seen The publisher says,

Johanna Skibsrud’s debut novel connects the flooding of an Ontario town, the Vietnam War, a trailer in North Dakota and an unfinished boat in Maine. Parsing family history, worn childhood memories, and the palimpsest of old misunderstandings, Skibsrud’s narrator maps her father’s past. ... a daughter’s wrestling with a heady family mythology.

But before I read that blurb I imagined what a novel with that title might have to say. I wondered if it might discuss by way of fiction the Canadian psyche because most Canadians, let's face it, are sentimentalists. Emotion and feelings inform their beliefs and their political biases, not empirical evidence or even, it seems, bitter experience. Wishful thinking is so much more agreeable than rigorous thought, easier too.

Hmmm - "heady family mythology." Perhaps I am not far wrong; perhaps the author captures that in her novel after all. We'll have to try to find a copy - not an easy thing I guess - to see if I am right.

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Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937)