Posts Tagged ‘popular literature’
Secret Path, drawn by Canadian cartoonist Jeff Lemire, is another account of the story of an Anishinaabe child Chanie Wenjack, the same told in Boyden’s Wenjack. Secret Path is a graphic novel, Lemire’s wordless drawings in pencils with watercolours being interspersed with lyrics from Downie’s album of the same name.
Secret Path is a high point in Lemire’s career, and a high point for the the Canadian graphic novel, depicting the struggle of a young boy to return home in all of its sadness and all of its glory with beautiful art.
This, too, is a book that must be read.
Joseph Boyden‘s novella Wenjack is a sensitive retelling of the story of Chanie Wenjack, an Anishinaabe who ran away from his residential school one October day in 1967 and died of exposure. Wenjack’s story has gained national prominence in recent years as Canadians at large have become aware of the borderline-genocidal ills of our country’s Indian residential school system. Joined by another new project, Secret Path, an album by Gord Downie and a graphic novel by Jeff Lemire, Wenjack is part of a multimedia effort by Canadian artists to tell Wenjack’s story, the better for us all to know.
Wenjack is as superb as one would expect given Boyden’s reputation. In spare poetic prose, Boyden tells the story of how a young boy desperate to go home ended up dying alone one cold night northern Ontario railroad tracks, and why. Chanie’s interior voice feels true, as true as the voices of the manitous–spirits–who, in the guise of the different animals of the bush, accompany Chanie on his final journey. As we follow Chanie to the end, Boyden helps us to understand something of who he was, and what his sufferings and his joys mean for all Canadians.
Wenjack is a sad story that needs to be told, and is here told heartbreakingly well by one of the masters of contemporary Canadian fiction. A quick read at just over a hundred pages, it’s something everyone who cares about Canada should take the time to read.