Monday, June 21, 2010

Elephants, Ani D, and Being a Teenager

THE WHITE BONE By Barbara Gowdy
Weight: 11.2 ounces
Method of Disposal: Giving to Skye
I was young, entranced, impressionable, and standing next to one of my closest friends right in front of the stage while Ani Difranco talked and sang , talked and sang. I was in full swoon. It was not the first time I saw her in concert, and it was not the last. I would see her many many times—the last time being in March of this year. At this particular concert, when I was much younger and standing next to my dearest buddy, Ani D. raved about a book she had just finished entitled, The White Bone. She said every one should read it, and I am one of every so I bought it as soon as I could.
I read the first four pages, lost interest, and put it down. I despised anthropromorphizing. I did not pick it up again for quite a few more years. I studied in college, I graduated, I began working at the animal shelter, and I surrounded myself with animals in my own home. It still rubs me the wrong way when I read a book that is written from the point of view of an animal. It usually comes off as self-righteous and over-the-top. I am much more inclined to give these books a chance now than I use to be. I read it. I learned a lot about elephants. I struggled. I cannot say I enjoyed the novel. I am not sure that it was bad—all the reviews compare it to Watership Down, which I do like—but I could not get into it. I felt that I was asked to assume too much and, in some ways, I felt like the descriptions were the same old shit put to a new story. It all felt so “tribal” in the way that the colonizer sees the tribe. It was painful and important. Does that makes any sense? Elephants are too incredible to be dull, but they are enough to me on their own without all the ridiculous Land Before Time moments(not that I am denying my deep and unending love for The Land Before Time).
I am curious to know what Skye thinks about the novel, and I am somewhat anxious to discuss it with her. I am hoping that she can give me the insight I need to really appreciate it. I feel like I should. Is it just because of that solitary moment with Ani D? Am I still 13? Will Skye be caught in a similar trap? We will see.

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