Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Book That Changed My Life

The Book That Changed My Life

The Book(s) That Changed My Life:

This recurring theme on CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show North by Northwest (@nxnwcbc) inspired me, especially after hearing one of my favourite Canadian literary lights, Bill Richardson's choices on Easter Sunday. Because Bill used to work in a library in Winnipeg, I associate him with home. Hearing his hilarious choices made me think. What books would I list as "formative"? "Seminal," if it weren't so gender-laden? (Is there an egg-centric equivalent?) Anyway, my choice for the book which changed my life would be The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence and my favourite book of all time remains The Diviners, also by Laurence. Both these novels are set, to begin with, around Manawaka, Laurence's Neepawa home town, which is a short 50 miles east of the farm where I grew up outside the town of Oak River. Margaret Laurence in the brief ten years between 1964 and 1974 made me see "my people" and myself in literature, as being worthy of inclusion. She is my 50-year-old equivalent to "Black lives matter," for Laurence's work asserts: women's lives matter. Rural lives matter. Manitoba lives matter. The West matters. Metis, First Nations lives matter. Canadian lives matter. Canadian literature from Margaret Laurence on teaches me that my life matters. Strange, but nothing else ever said that to me. And consider the alternative. 6 to 10K people in Canada choose suicide every year. Not to mention the thousands more who OD. Laurence, literature, these books, saved my life. 

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