Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Reader's Diary #219- Louise Bernice Halfe: Blue Marrow (FINISHED)

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of this book is Halfe's use of voice. Without any warning poems change from male to female, whites to Cree, and more. There are no headings or other obvious characteristics to distinguish whose voice is speaking. Yet it is not jarring. Obviously this approach was risky for Halfe and she should get the utmost respect for pulling it off. Instead of confusing a reader, grammar switches, value changes and so forth help differentiate voices and the result of having them switch without warning is almost a surreal look at history, like looking through various eyes at once.

I also liked her theme of love and its challenges. Often she tells of love between Cree women and the furtraders. While most are idealistic at first, challenges soon become apparent. The Church, the government and in fact, societies at large seem bent on coming between them. Yet the real destruction comes when the influence of outside forces begins to change the lovers themselves. They get under the skin, meet some resistance at the bone, but finally make it into the marrow. The way Halfe seems to contrast nature with man seems to make a subtle point about love; Love is natural, resistance is manmade.


Allison said...

I like when an author deviates from the norm and takes a little bit of a risk. Sounds like an interesting read.

John Mutford said...

Yeah, I agree. I have more respect for an artist who tries something risky and fails than someone who plays it safe all the time.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It takes a very good ear, and a good deal of confidence to be able to switch voices like that. She really is starting to sound like quite a find.

John Mutford said...

She was a good find indeed. My system of just reading whatever poetry book the library carries is paying off.