Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: Featuring Lori Lansens and David Adams Richards

 

By Lynn Willoughby

The Mountain Story ~ Lori Lansens
“Five days.  Four hikers.  Three survivors.”  This is how Lansens new novel is described.
It is the story of Wolf, a young man trying to survive the death of his mother, abandonment and neglect of his father, and his friendship with Bryd.  It is the story of how Wolf and three generations of women become stranded on a mountain due to an avalanche, with no way down.  It is the story of what happened in those five days of freezing temperatures, no water or food, but a lot of courage.  It is the story of why any of them were there in the first place.
I liked this novel, but I also like mountains.  When I haven’t seen the Rockies for a few days I need a view so I can take a deep breath. When mountains are not in the west, my sense of direction deserts me.  Nevertheless, I don’t want to be lost and unprepared or wearing flip flops, or with a broken wrist when I am in the mountains.
The mountain in Lansens’ novel is real.  It is also a metaphor for Wolf’s life and the challenges he has faced his entire existence.  As hunger, frostbite, exposure, infection, hypothermia and dehydration take their toll, each of the hikers shares their deepest emotions, personal history and family secrets.  I expect this is a universal phenomenon, when one in facing death.
The conclusion was satisfying, the writing is smooth and full of sensory images, anxiety, fear and love.  It is a good read.
  • Rush Home Road
  • The Wife’s Tale
………..and others
Crimes Against My Brother ~ David Adams Richards
At social functions there has long been an unwritten rule not to talk about politics, religion or money.  In Richards’ latest novel this triumvirate is the basis for the entire book.  It is heartbreaking and makes one realize how our actions are like ripples in the water when we toss in a stone – the wavelets travel out and out and there are always consequences.
Three friends rowing up in the Miramichi region of New Brunswick seal their friendship with blood.  They are teenagers raging against uncaring gods, the poor, the careless adults in their community, alcoholism, unemployment, debt, violence and poverty.  Ian, Harold and Evan are soon tested and find they each have a debt to be paid.
This is a complex story, with interconnected lives, loves and debts – what people owe for good deeds and bad, as well as money itself.  When not actually reading, this book made me question the influence of ridicule, gossip and deception.  Do these actions ruin lives?  Will miscommunication actually rip a town apart?  Will withholding information to protect a loved one lead to corruption and despair?
This is not a lighthearted, easy read.  I have read other books by Richards and realize the facts themselves matter less than what other people think.  These are the ways we fool ourselves.  I am not sure when I last read a book where poverty and moral failures were so expertly woven into the story.  The corruption and collusion of governments, and  multinational corporations leading to the destruction of people, families, communities, forests, the watershed and the environment make for interesting, if maddening and heart breaking reading.
There is nothing uplifting about this novel, but it certainly made me think and question many of my beliefs.
  • Nights Below Station Street
  • The Bay of Love and Sorrows
……….and several others
Who Knew
“Forest cover is key to regulatory water temperature, maintaining water supply and protecting other plants and wildlife from the harmful effect of climate change… New Brunswick has only 3% protected forests…”  – Tracey Glenn

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