Friday, October 05, 2012

Reader's Diary #876- Susanna Moodie: Roughing it in the Bush

Susanna Moodie's Roughing it in the Bush is one of those important Canadian books. One you have to read therefore you don't want to. I didn't find it as dull as all that but my version was filled with body-swapping aliens.

Roughing it in the Bush tells the true trials and tribulations of a British woman and her husband who have settled in Canada in the 1830s. Quickly learning that the paradise they'd been promised must still be earned, Moodie sets out to educate future settlers on what they can actually expect.

I've no doubt that such a move at such a time would not have been easy, and I certainly wouldn't have coped any better than Moodie, but she's still not an entirely likeable or even sympathetic character. Quite hypocritical and condescending, even when she supposedly learns the error of her ways and condemns others for not having learned similar lessons, she still has a ways to go. It's hard, for example, to believe that she ever really understood the poverty she claims to have endured, when she always seems to have a servant girl employed.

But still there are enough adventures involving fire, disease, pesky Americans and so forth to keep it interesting. The aliens? Here's the thing. I read Roughing it in the Bush while on my elliptical and I've recently discovered that I work out best to EDM. Such music makes for a strange pairing with the story of an uptight 19th century British woman in the backwoods of Canada. Maybe it was this weird mash-up that got my creative juices flowing, or maybe it was the lack of oxygen in my brain, but I became somewhat fixated on the frequent and usually unexplained absences of her husband. So I filled in the blanks. He was off hunting vampires! No, too 2009. Zombies? No, too 2011. Wait, aliens are due for a comeback! He was off ridding the new Canadian frontier from aliens!  Aliens who made their way to Earth via a portal near an overturned maple tree (it is Canada after all) and who found the environment too harsh for their own bodies so they had to take over the bodies and minds of the locals! Suddenly all the eccentric or unsavory characters were potential aliens.

Okay, if you've ever read the book, you know that last part didn't happen. But trust me, it'd make it a hell of a lot more interesting .


Chrisbookarama said...

I like your version better. She drove me nuts. She didn't have a good word for anyone. Her having a maid all the time (and complaining about her) when they were supposedly so poor bugged me too.

John Mutford said...

Chris: And so much seemed like self-fulfilling prophecy!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm impressed at your ability to read while on the elliptical without falling off the side and breaking your neck. Especially while in an EDM-induced trance.

gypsysmom said...

Now I definitely have to read this book.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what you'd make of this one, John. Thanks for the morning smile - and you realize, of course, that my mental picture of you will forever be coloured by this glimpse into your reading-exercise habits & music choices!

You must be extremely coordinated. :-)


John Mutford said...

Barb and Barb: Not coordinated at all— quite the klutz actually. There's a ledge for my eReader and my hand only leaves the elliptical handles long enough to swipe the page.

Gypsysmom: I'm thinking I should follow it up with Atwood's The Journals of Susanna Moodie.