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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Reader's Diary #76- Jean M. Auel: The Plains of Passage (Ch 15, p.242)


"One day had blended into another with reassuring monotony..."

Okay, during the Canada Reads debates when John K. Samson defended the slightly broken structure of A Complicated Kindness by saying that it mirrored the central character's life, he may have been onto something. But while it works for Miriam Toews, the same cannot be said for Auel. The travels of Ayla and Jondalar are long, boring and repetitive- that's probably accurate of a lot of long journeys- that doesn't mean the novel should mimic that. 757 freakin' pages? Couldn't her editor have told her to trim this sucker down? For starters the first 242 pages should be cut. Same old, same old, page after insanely boring page! Even my critiques of the book are starting to repeat themselves. About a dozen times now Auel has picked up the pieces for a potential story and just when I get my hopes up that something might happen in the way of a plot, my hopes are crushed. What's that? Some strange people are coming towards them from across the river? Oh, they turned around. Seriously.

One thing did peak my interest (maybe because I was looking so hard for anything that might help me keep my eyes open) was the mention of reed wolves. These wolves lived in trees on a floating island of reeds (which in itself reminded me of the floating island in Life of Pi). The whole idea of such creatures seemed so bizarre, yet most of her other details seem to "revolve" around fact- so did such an animal exist? Does it still? Some people seem to think that perhaps this was a Northern variant of a golden jackal that went extinct, but I can't find anything about jackals past or present climbing trees. According to JungleWalk, gray foxes are the only canines that can climb trees. So now I have no idea, but for a second Auel had intrigued me. If anyone does know where Auel got her information, could you let me know? I'm mildly interested.

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