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Posted: October 20, 2019

Eden Robinson swept me off my feet

Book Review

By Derryll White

Robinson, Eden (2017).  Son of A Trickster.

Wow! It isn’t too often for me that a new writer (the last one was Joe Ide) sweeps me off my feet with the brilliance of story and word. Eden Robinson is the real deal; kind of a Harry Potter blows Hogwarts and takes up in Kitimat.  Robinson takes the beauty of the surreal, embodies it in Wee’git who has many forms. The Trickster follows Jared out of Haisla/Heiltsuk culture into the crossover world of teenage life in Kitimat, a northern B.C. smelter town.

Robinson lays out the harshness of that life, a reality that pulses with drugs, violence and the soft kindness of a fierce mother for her son. Eden Robinson plugs into a cross-cultural pulse that is so real that the old myths come alive in real time. She makes me think of W.P. Kinsella and the mixing of reality and time, memory and reason.

Jaared’s mother, Maggie, is a fearsome party girl warrior witch. I love her as she reminds me of the most intriguing bits of several women I have known. Eden Robinson shows unbending intent as a writer by creating such a stunning character, not particularly a gender correct presentation and not caring in the least. She is my kind of woman, choosing strength and strong character over social pressure. I am now searching for more of Eden Robinson’s work.

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Excerpts from the novel:

LIFE – Jared remembered the dread he’d felt when his mom’s ex David was in their lives.  The constant bile at the back of his throat from his queasy stomach clenched in a knot.

The world is hard, his mom had said.  You have to be harder.

TRILOBITES – The trilobites tended to avoid the weird, hippie mammals and reptiles that had decided to give land dwelling a go and had descended into eating each other, their own young and whatever else they could chase down and swallow.

No accounting for taste, they told themselves.  We’ll stay here in the ocean doing exactly what we’ve been doing for the last 200 million years, thank you very much.

BEING – Consider roadkill.  Consider the bloody pancake of a body now a shadow on a road.  Your three-dimensional body in nine dimensions: imagine pouring a glass of apple juice into the ocean.  When you shift out of our dimensions, you run the risk of dispersion so profound, even the memory of you is obliterated. Universes are stubbornly separate.

Unless you are a Trickster.

SHADOWS – “The shadow suggests the object,” The fireflies said, “Your existence suggests birth and, inevitably, death.  Whereas the shadow of infinity suggests the divine.  Or God, to use your crude terminology.”

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.


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