Tuesday, September 4, 2018

EMMA - Jane Austen

Did you enjoy this book?  Why or why not?
1. “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” It has been said that great novelists introduce the main themes of a book in the first sentence. What themes are suggested in the first sentence of Emma? What does it tell us about Emma Woodhouse? Discuss the use of the word “seemed,” which implies that all is not as it appears. Are the rich without cares? Is Emma as happy and clever as the first sentence states? Examine Austen’s choice of other words and phrases in this sentence.
2. Mr. Woodhouse says, “Emma never thinks of herself if she can do good to others.” Is this a positive or negative attribute? What is significant in Austen’s word choice here?
3. Describe Mr. Woodhouse. What are the reasons for his fears? Is he a hypochondriac or is he in ill health? What kind of a daughter is Emma?
4. “Altogether, she was quite convinced of Harriet Smith’s being exactly the young friend she wanted--exactly the something which her home required.” Discuss Emma’s choice of friends. Why does she befriend Harriet? Does Harriet benefit from Emma’s friendship? Why isn’t Harriet a good companion for Emma? Why doesn’t Emma befriend Jane Fairfax?
5. Emma discourages Harriet from accepting Mr. Martin’s proposal on the basis of his not being a “real gentleman.” Is this true? Who measures up to being a real gentleman?
6. What is the importance of Mr. Knightley asking Harriet Smith to dance? How does this dance change the relationship between Mr. Knightley and Emma?
7. Why does it take Frank Churchill so long to pay his respects to Mrs. Weston? How and why does Emma’s initial opinion of him change? What are the sources of Mr. Knightley’s dislike of Frank Churchill?.
8. What revelations or lessons does Emma experience that contribute to her growing selfawareness? To “thoroughly understand, her own heart” becomes Emma’s “first endeavor.” How has she changed since the beginning of the novel? Compare and contrast her views on marriage at various points in the novel with attitudes of the time.
9. Do Mr. Knightley’s feelings for Emma change over the course of the story, and, if so, how do they change?
10. Marriage is a central device in Emma, but not all of the marriages are necessarily good. Discuss the matches between Mr. Weston and Miss Taylor, Mr. Elton and Mrs. Elton, Emma and Mr. Knightley, Harriet and Mr. Martin, and Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill. What traits do the characters in each couple possess that make them suited or unsuited for each other? about the options of women of?
 11. According to her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh, Jane Austen said when she started to write Emma, “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” Do you like Emma? Is it necessary to like the heroine to appreciate the character or the novel?
12. It is often said that great literature bears rereading. How is that particularly true with Emma?
13.  Would you recommend this book to others?  Why or why not?

Menu- British Tea

Finger sandwiches  (cucumber, egg, smoked salmon)
Strawberries & cream
Toast with orange marmalade
Shortbread cookies

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Celebrating Canada's 150th: July

Sorry Ladies, it's Thomas King again this month... and until I read them all, I can't promise that this is the last time I talk about his books! 

Book Summary: Strong, Sassy women and hard-luck hardheaded men, all searching for the middle ground between Native American tradition and the modern world, perform an elaborate dance of approach and avoidance in this magical, rollicking tale by Cherokee author Thomas King. Alberta is a university professor who would like to trade her two boyfriends for a baby but no husband; Lionel is forty and still sells televisions for a patronizing boss; Eli and his log cabin stand in the way of a profitable dam project. These three—and others—are coming to the Blackfoot reservation for the Sun Dance and there they will encounter four Indian elders and their companion, the trickster Coyote—and nothing in the small town of Blossom will be the same again…  - from goodreads.com

My Thoughts: This book is so much more than the sum of its characters, really.  And its characters are great: Alberta, all full of well-educated, upper-class, urban middle age angst; Lionel, who is settling for a disappointing life and kidding himself that he'll change it all, go back to school, do something new, one day; Eli and his slow contemplation of life and his role in it.  And it's minor characters are great too!  But the real magic in this story is the story-telling done by the four narrators: The Lone Ranger; Robinson Crusoe, Hawkeye and Ishmael with their pesky companion, Coyote.   These are the bits that tie the whole novel together as well as add humor and depth of meaning.  I found these interludes clever, witty and insightful - Thomas King shows us that not only can he have a laugh at himself, but he invites us to join him as we have a laugh at Western civilizations, past and present, too.  And it's awfully hard not to join in!

Certainly not a must-read, but a fun and thoughtful book for fans of Thomas King!

Friday, June 29, 2018

And the Winner is... Books for Sept 2018-March 2019

September - Reading the Classics 
Hostess: Danielle
Emma by Jane Austen

October - Mystery Night 
Hostess: Emily
The Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

November - Library Kit
Hostess: Karen
TBD - Hostess's Choice

December - Get Cooking 
Hostess: Marion
97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman

January 2019 - Biography/Autobiography
Hostess: Shelagh
 Letters to My Daughters by Fawzia Koofi

February 2019- Couples Book Club
Hostess:  Sherrie/Tamara
Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist by Martina Scholtens 

March - Hostess's Choice
Hostess: Sherrie/Tamara
(possible library kit)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Celebrating Canada's 150th: June

Who is Nicola Campbell?  "Named after her home, British Columbia's Nicola Valley, children's book author Nicola Campbell is Interior Salish on her mother's side and M├ętis from Saskatchewan on her father's side. Nicola currently lives in North Vancouver, B.C. with her son. She is completing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.

Nicola writes adult and children's short fiction, poetry and has several works in progress including another free-verse picture book. She loves the outdoors; biking and hiking and has been participating in traditional cedar dug-out canoe racing for eleven years. She has a strong respect and an absolute belief in First Nation's spirituality, culture and tradition."

In the author's own words:
"I heard an elder speak of the importance of our languages and our culture. He said that our words are powerful; our stories are elastic; our languages are music: they dance, they move and they are medicine for our people. He said they are a spirit within themselves and we are only the channel that brings them to life. I write because I know what he said is true.  Shi-shi-etko and Shin-chi's Canoe are inspired by stories that I heard from my family, elders and community. As a child, I didn't understand why my mom, aunties and uncles and the elders in our community were taken away. I didn't understand why as children, they weren't allowed to speak — Indian. I knew that because of what my grandparents went through, they did not teach my mom or aunts and uncles to speak Nlekepmxcin and this was a common decision among many parents at that time. As children, my cousins and I could not fathom why all First Nations children everywhere were taken from their parents and forced to attend these schools. These two books are my efforts to illustrate these two children finding strength and resilience within themselves along with finding as many adventures as they could find." - from www.strongnations.com

  Book Summary: In just four days young Shi-shi-etko will have to leave her family and all that she knows to attend residential school.
She spends her last days at home treasuring the beauty of her world -- the dancing sunlight, the tall grass, each shiny rock, the tadpoles in the creek, her grandfather's paddle song. Her mother, father and grandmother, each in turn, share valuable teachings that they want her to remember. And so Shi-shi-etko carefully gathers her memories for safekeeping.  Richly hued illustrations complement this gently moving and poetic account of a child who finds solace all around her, even though she is on the verge of great loss -- a loss that native people have endured for generations because of the residential schools system. - from amazon.ca

Book Summary: When they arrive at school, Shi-shi-etko reminds Shinchi, her six-year-old brother, that they can only use their English names and that they can't speak to each other. For Shinchi, life becomes an endless cycle of church mass, school, and work, punctuated by skimpy meals. He finds solace at the river, clutching a tiny cedar canoe, a gift from his father, and dreaming of the day when the salmon return to the river — a sign that it’s almost time to return home. This poignant story about a devastating chapter in First Nations history is told at a child’s level of understanding. - from amazon.ca

My Thoughts: I loved these two beautiful, gently told children's books. I would happily sit and read these with my 7 year old, but can just as easily see using these to introduce the topic of Residential Schools with a middle grade or junior high class.  What I like about these books is that they focus on the children's strength, resilience, strong family bonds, strong communities and the value of their culture and beliefs.  As much as we need stories that show the horrors, brutality and injustice of Residential schools, we also need to be reminded that these children weren't just subject TO something spirit-crushing, but that they were also removed FROM something nurturing and spiritual.

That said, we don't have to agree with their spiritual teachings and we don't have to condemn the religious beliefs of those who ran the schools - but we need to recognize that these children had homes, families and communities... the damage done extends far beyond the occasional abused child or an isolated case of a runaway here and there.

These are beautiful books that can be an important part of teaching our children about "our home on Native land". 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

June 2018: Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

Meeting Details: We'll be meeting on 
Thursday, June 28th at Tessa's house.

Discussion Questions:

1) Did you enjoy the book?  Why or why not?

2) The story is told as a first person narrative. How do you react to Saul? Do your attitudes to him change during the novel, and if so, what brings about these changes?

3) To which character(s) in the novel, other than Saul, do you react most strongly? Reflect on your reactions and the possible reasons for them

4) The novel vividly describes the effects on Saul when he is sent to a residential school: “I read once that there are holes in the universe that swallow all light, all bodies. St. Jerome’s took all the light from my world”(43)   How did reading the novel change your understanding of the residential school system and its lasting effects?

5) “One who loves does not brandish fear or require it” (26) What insights into Aboriginal spirituality do you gain from the novel? “Where is God now, then?” I asked (92)  Where do you find God in this story?

6) Richard Wagamese writes poetically about hockey, describing it as the “snow white stage”. What does hockey mean to Saul? Are all his hockey experiences positive? 

7) Racism is a very grim reality for Saul.  Give a few examples of racism in the book - how does Saul react to this racism?  While it is tempting to believe that these attitudes are no longer prevalent, examples can be found in many places. Reflect on examples of stereotyping or racism that you have experienced directly, have heard about from friends, or have witnessed in the media or other sources.

8) Richard Wagamese is an accomplished storyteller who has performed across the country. Was there one example of excellent story-telling in the book that you found particularly effective?

9) In reading Indian Horse, what did you learn about Indigenous peoples in Canada that you did not know before? 

10) “They scooped out our insides, Saul. We are not responsible for that. We are not responsible for what happened to us. None of us are,” Fred said. “But our healing – that’s up to us.” (210) What you do think "reconciliation" means?  How can we as individuals, Christians and as Canadians, be part of the healing?

11) What role does redemption play in Indian Horse?   The book begins with the idea of storytelling: “They say I can’t understand where I’m going if I don’t understand where I’ve been . . .”(2)   How does story-telling play a role in redemption?

12) Richard Wagamese has said that Indian Horse “…was a story clamoring to be told in a way that was empowering – that was not preachy, threatening or guilt inducing.” Do you feel Indian Horse is, in fact, a story told in a way that is empowering and not preachy, threatening or guilt inducing? Why or why not?

13) Would would recommend this book?  To whom and why or why not?

Many of the questions taken from www.amnestybookclub.ca 
(which also has some good background info about the book, if you're interested) and http://manitouconference.ca/img/Gillian-Indian-Horse.pdf 

Menu: Ma's First Rule is Food.

Martha Kelly believes in feeding growing boys well... the food's not fancy, but it's simple stick-to-your ribs fare made with what's locally available.  Her husband says about her: "Ma's first rule is food.  She cooks up a storm too."  And every serious hockey player knows that a meal should have as many parts as a hockey game!

For a smaller crowd, we may want to consider skipping the second period and going straight from First Period appetizers to Third Period desserts!

First Period:
Potato, Leek and Bacon Soup

Second Period:
Fried fish
Fried onions and potatoes
Baked beans (canned is fine!)
Fresh bread

Third Period:
Blueberry Cobbler
Ice Cream

Chocolate Brownies

Reminder: Please take a few minutes to check out our book choices for Sept-December (posted below) so that we can choose books at the June meeting. 

Looking Ahead: Sept 2018 - Feb 2019

Here are some choices for Sept-December... we'll decide on these books at our June meeting so if you're unable to attend, please take a minute to pop into the comments and share your preferences.  If you have another book you'd like to suggest, please add it to the comments so that we can check it out in advance.  Generally speaking, we've found that last minute impulse decisions are often duds... and we get better books when we all do a little bit of homework.  I've included links so that you can easily check out all these titles and have an informed opinion. 

September - Reading the Classics 
Hostess: Danielle
  1. The Invisible Man by HG Wells
  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  3. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
  5. here's a great (but short) list of classics... have you read all these?
  6. Emma by Jane Austen

October - Mystery Night 
Hostess: Emily
  1. The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield
  2. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
  3. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (Flavia de Luce #2) by 
  4. The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman
  5. mysteries for thinking women list from Oprah
  6. The Hollow City by Ransome Riggs
November - Library Kit
Hostess: Karen

December - Get Cooking 
Hostess: Marion
  1. 97 Orchard:: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in one New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman
  2. Sous Chef by Michael Gibney. 
  3. My Paris Kitchen Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz
  4. A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson
  5. The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson
  6. other suggestions? We looking for good food with a bit of a "story" to it :-)
January 2019 - Biography/Autobiography
Hostess: Shelagh
  1. a biography of a member of the Royal Family?  There are lots to choose from! 
  2. Between Gods by Alison Pick... one woman's discovery that she is really Jewish and how she struggles to make sense of her heritage, faith and family in the midst of depression
  3. Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng (the true story of one woman's sufferings during the Cultural Revolution in China... see review in July 2010) 
  4. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (about building schools to educate women in Afganistan)... this book is also interesting in that it has been widely discredited
  5. Night by Elie Wiesel (a classic memoir about one teen's struggle to come to terms with guilt and God after surviving the death camps in WWII)
  6. I Hate to Leave this Beautiful Place by Howard Norman (a memoir)
  7. Queen of the Air by Dean N Jensen (a biography that may inspire a new fitness routine!?)
  8. other suggestions?

February 2019- Couples Book Club

March - 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

May 2018: The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The War That Saved My Life 
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Meeting on Tuesday, May 15 at Tamara's house (address in email).  Come anytime after 7:30, with discussion to start at 8:00

Discussion Questions - to come...

Menu - British Eats!

Ada spends a lot of time in the book marvelling over the variety of good food that Susan has in her home - and the fresh food.  So, our theme will be "British Eats", with some fresh additiions.  Some of the ideas use the fried sausage and eggs from their breakfasts, or are in honour of their Christmas dinner with Roast Goose...Or feel free to add your own favourite British dish!!!


Tray with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas or anything else fresh!
Cauliflower, Broccoli and Mustard Soup
Devils on Horseback (bacon wrapped dates)
Roast Goose (or Chicken)
Beef Stew
Fried sausages or Sausage Rolls - Tessa
Bubble and Squeak
Vegetable Fritatta (to use the eggs they have at breakfast) - Karen
Mini meat pies


Banoffee Pie
Sponge Cake with fruit sauce
Raspberry Tarts - Emily?

Drinks provided by Tamara - there will be tea, of course!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Celebrating Canada's 150th: May

Son of a Trickster (The Trickster trilogy) by [Robinson, Eden]
I enjoyed Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach, so I was looking forward to this book too.

Book Summary: Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize: With striking originality and precision, Eden Robinson, the author of the classic Monkey Beach and winner of the Writers’ Trust of Canada Fellowship, blends humor with heartbreak in this compelling coming-of-age novel. Everyday teen existence meets indigenous beliefs, crazy family dynamics, and cannibalistic river otters . . . The exciting first novel in her trickster trilogy.  Everyone knows a guy like Jared: the burnout kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who's often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon. Jared does smoke and drink too much, and he does make the best cookies in town, and his mom is a mess, but he's also a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people more than twice his age, and he can't rely on anyone for consistent love and support, except for his flatulent pit bull, Baby Killer (he calls her Baby)--and now she's dead.  Jared can't count on his mom to stay sober and stick around to take care of him. He can't rely on his dad to pay the bills and support his new wife and step-daughter. Jared is only sixteen but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family's life, even look out for his elderly neighbours. But he struggles to keep everything afloat...and sometimes he blacks out. And he puzzles over why his maternal grandmother has never liked him, why she says he's the son of a trickster, that he isn't human. Mind you, ravens speak to him--even when he's not stoned.   You think you know Jared, but you don't.

My Thoughts:   I enjoyed Monkey Beach, but I LOVED Son of a Trickster!  You can tell that Eden Robinson has really upper her game and her writing is not just lush and cinematic, like it was in Monkey Beach, but her pacing and plot is much tighter and this results in a quickly paced, gripping novel of heart-break, love and loss.  Her main character, 16 yr old Jared, is the kind of cliche that everyone loves to rail against: scraping by academically,  smoking and drinking too much, dealing drugs, socially marginalized, living from hand to mouth and surrounded by an incredibly dysfunctional family.  It's so easy to blame a kid like that - and his family/community for producing him, but Robinson lets us in the backdoor to view his life from the inside and we see a teenager of incredible resilience, strength and compassion.  We see a kid who defies expectation at every turn and eventually finds courage and wisdom IN his culture, rather than despite it.  As Eden Robinson describes it: You think you know Jared, but you don't.

Equally compelling is Jared's new friend, Sarah, who is herself broken and hurting.  Sarah is a complex character who is alternately gentle and brutal; she pushed people away and then tenderly holds them close.  Jared is both drawn to her and repelled by her as well - and as he gets to know her, and he lets her into his own life, its mesmerizing to watch these two hurting kids find strength and courage in each other.

An excellently written novel that will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions and leave you eager for the next installment of this planned trilogy.  I'll be first in line for the next book!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Menu: "The Heart Goes Last"

Olives (pg. 32) "Stan rolls an olive around in his mouth before chewing: it's a long time since he's had an olive. The taste is distracting.  He should be more alert, because naturally they're being scrutinized..."

Avocado with shrimp appetizer (pg. 222) "She (Charmaine) returns to the dining room.  Ed stands up, holds her chair for her.  The avocado with shrimp appetizer is in place."

Spinach salad (pg. 97)

Chicken dumplings (pg. 63) "Positron food is excellent, because if the cooking team orders up crap for you, you'll dish out the crap to them the next month to get even.  Works like a charm: it's amazing how many painstaking chefs have sprung into being.  Today it's chicken dumplings, one of his favourites."

Shepherd's pie (pg. 97) "In the evening, after four hours of towel-folding and the communal dinner - shepherd's pie, spinach salad, raspberry mousse - Charmaine joins the knitting circle in the main room of the woman's wing."

Raspberry mouse (pg. 97)

Plum crumble with cream (pg. 138) "She picks up her helping of plum crumble in its sturdy pressed-glass dish.  There's cream added, from Positron's own cows; not that she's ever seen those cows either."

Celebrating Canada's 150th: April

Book Summary: 
Winner of the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction!  This is Thomas King’s first literary novel in 15 years and follows on the success of the award-winning and bestselling The Inconvenient Indian and his beloved Green Grass, Running Water and Truth and Bright Water, both of which continue to be taught in Canadian schools and universities. Green Grass, Running Water is widely considered a contemporary Canadian classic.

In The Back of the Turtle, Gabriel returns to Smoke River, the reserve where his mother grew up and to which she returned with Gabriel’s sister. The reserve is deserted after an environmental disaster killed the population, including Gabriel’s family, and the wildlife. Gabriel, a brilliant scientist working for Domidion, created GreenSweep, and indirectly led to the crisis. Now he has come to see the damage and to kill himself in the sea. But as he prepares to let the water take him, he sees a young girl in the waves. Plunging in, he saves her, and soon is saving others. Who are these people with their long black hair and almond eyes who have fallen from the sky?

Filled with brilliant characters, trademark wit, wordplay and a thorough knowledge of native myth and story-telling, this novel is a masterpiece by one of our most important writers.

My Thoughts: I was instantly hooked by this novel and by the time I finished it, I couldn't wait to begin it again.  Thomas King has a real talent for character - and an amazing capacity for compassion and humor.  Gabriel thinks himself the villain in this tale of environmental destruction and is determined to drown himself in the sea, and yet King writes him as an anguished, reluctant hero and you can't help but the feel compassion for him and urge him to fight for life.   Dorian Asher is more likely the villain in this disaster, as he's the powerful, profit hungry CEO of Domidion, but he doesn't see himself this way at all - as as King writes him as a man driven by his appetites and desires, crippled by health concerns and gob-smacked by his wife's affair and desire for a divorce - and I can't help but to feel a deep compassion for this shallow, misguided man and his rich, but empty life.  

Mara, Crispin and Sonny are truly some of the victims of this environmental crisis, but they refuse to see themselves this way, and readers won't see this either.  They're survivors, hope-rs, dreamers and eventually, doers, as the ocean, the reserve and the village begin to live, grow and thrive again.

A powerful book  that shows us meaningful reconciliation in action - full of intriguing characters, environmental caution, cultural hopefulness and genuine compassion, all told with Thomas King's deft comedic touch.  An absolute winner!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

April 2018: "The Heart Goes Last" Discussion Questions

"The Heart Goes Last" book club
Date: Thursday April 5, 2018
Time: 7:30 pm, discussion to start 8:00 pm
Location: Sherrie's home
See the source image

Discussion Questions:

1. Did you enjoy the book?  Why or why not?

2. If you were in Stan and Charmaine’s situation, would you sign up for the Positron Project?

3. What is the significance of Charmaine’s memories of Grandma Win and her cheerful aphorisms?

4. Do you think society could actually break down to the point that it does in the novel? Why or why not?

5. Bright colors figure into many descriptions in the novel, and act as a counterpoint to the drab quality of daily life in Positron. Stan and Charmaine’s lockers are pink and green; the Alternates’ lockers are purple and red; prison uniforms are orange; the knitted bears are blue. Do you think the colors assigned to the various objects are intentional or incidental?

6. How did your attitudes toward Stan and Charmaine change over the course of the novel?

7. The novel’s title has surprising significance. When it was revealed, did you find it a clever twist or macabre and disturbing?

8. Charmaine is placed in an impossible situation when she discovers Stan on the gurney. Did she make the right choice? What would you have done?

9. No one is who he or she seems to be in Consilience. Did the shifting identities of characters make you wonder what their previous lives had been like before they came to Consilience? Would they have been better off "outside the walls"?

10. Could the Positron Project ever be a viable solution to solving societal upheaval?

11. The author is known for embracing emerging technologies, but in this work medical science and robotics are used in sinister and manipulative ways. In this sense is The Heart Goes Last a cautionary tale?

12. "The world is all before you," says Jocelyn at the close of the novel. How do you think Charmaine will adjust to freedom?

13. Would you recommend this book to others?

Menu to follow

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Celebrating Canada's 150th: March

This month's read focuses heavily on the reality of racism, both historically, and today: Injun by Jordan Abel.

Book Summary: Award-winning Nisga'a poet Jordan Abel's third collection, Injun, is a long poem about racism and the representation of indigenous peoples. Composed of text found in western novels published between 1840 and 1950 - the heyday of pulp publishing and a period of unfettered colonialism in North America -Injun then uses erasure, pastiche, and a focused poetics to create a visually striking response to the western genre.

After compiling the online text of 91 of these now public-domain novels into one gargantuan document, Abel used his word processor's Find" function to search for the word "injun." The 509 results were used as a study in context: How was this word deployed? What surrounded it? What was left over once that word was removed? Abel then cut up the sentences into clusters of three to five words and rearranged them into the long poem that is Injun. The book contains the poem as well as peripheral material that will help the reader to replicate, intuitively, some of the conceptual processes that went into composing the poem.

Though it has been phased out of use in our "post-racial" society, the word "injun" is peppered throughout pulp western novels. Injun retraces, defaces, and effaces the use of this word as a colonial and racial marker. While the subject matter of the source text is clearly problematic, the textual explorations in Injun help to destabilize the colonial image of the "Indian" in the source novels, the western genre as a whole, and the Western canon."

My Thoughts: I wouldn't really describe this book as a "fun" read, and I wouldn't recommend that you read it in a sitting.  Instead, this collection needs to be read in the context of Jordan Abel's exploration of language, and in bite-sized portions.  I got this book last October, and I've been dipping in and reading bits once a week or so since then.  Every time I visit this collection, I notice something new or I'm disturbed by something that I didn't see before.   Here's how the main poem "Injun" begins:
he played injun in gods country
where boys proved themselves clean
dumb beasts who could cut fire
out of the whitest1 sand
he played english across the trail
where girls turned plum wild
garlic and strained words
through the window of night
he spoke through numb lips and
breathed frontier2

In the second half of the collection, subtitled "Notes" Jordan Abel explores some of the other words that show up frequently in western novels.  He cuts out the line containing that word and lines up the sentences on the page so that the key word stands out.  When you read through the sentences, you get a strong sense of how that word is used, and what kind of meaning it holds.  In the case of the following example, you could easily replace the word "whitest" with "best" in the same way the word "injun" is often coupled with "dirty"

The neatest thing about reading this collection is imagining the writing of it - realizing that Abel is not writing in his own words, but that he's cutting apart novels and piecing them together in bits of his own... he literally deconstructs literature and recreates his own art from the ruins.  And what emerges is no longer the stereotyped "dead Injun" of western novels, but an alive, vibrant and rebellious nation of people who won't be defeated.

Although not really aimed at the average reader, I would recommend this challenging, "cutting" edge collection for those who don't mind some poetry that comes in impressions and big pictures, as opposed to poetry that can be analysed word by word.    I didn't understand this whole work, but that's ok - every time I go back to it, I'm challenged anew.