I fought it. I did.
I didn’t want to read Twenty-Six by Leo McKay, Jr. even though it was chosen by the powers that be to be the one book all Nova Scotia should read this year. One Book Nova Scotia. It’s a new thing.
Why didn’t I want to read it? Well, because it has all the gritty bits of both CanLit and Atlantic Literature – filled with poverty, drinking, disasters, mines, mining disasters, generations of doomed families, family dynamics, and so on. It seemed heavy going. I prefer a bit of joy in my reading.
Like when the villains are captured in mysteries, for example.
But there I was at the library, waiting for a workshop on researching to begin, and it was RIGHT there, in front of me. The librarian waiting to give the talk recommended it. She said it was a quick read and that there were several times she felt tears coming over her when reading it on the bus. She seemed the type to appreciate good writing – how could I define that? Hmm. She had intelligent eyes, a sense of humour, a feeling of joy in discovery, a genuine thrill when asked to explore new ideas or research areas.
I liked her. That was probably the reason. If I like someone and I think I have an appreciation for good books, ergo, she must have the same.
So…well…I picked it up. Still a bit hesitant, still not really wanting to wander in its grimness. The first character introduced has the unlikely name of Ziv. He’s drunk (not unlikely in an Atlantic book). He lives in a mining town. A dilapidated mining town.
And suddenly all the stuff I’ve learned about place and literature and how Atlantic Canadian writers see their lives thrust against the backdrop of sea and death and weather god damn it the weather and the war and hardship and on and on leapt into my mind and I just had to read it.
Even though I know I’ll want a drink after I’m done.
Oh, and btw? One Book Nova Scotia ended on November 9th for 2012. I’m already behind. They suggest I try Nanowrimo, which I’m doing too but have delayed to read this book.
And let me tell you about the weather….