Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Reader's Diary #881- Edith Iglauer: Denison's Ice Road
If it was Edith Iglauer's intention to capture this dullness, then I'd say the book was a roaring success. Which is odd considering that over the past couple of years I've come across many people praising the book up, hailing it as a true Northern classic. The fact that a northern book is still in print after its original 1974 publication should say something about the book's legacy. In Denison's Ice Road Edith Igaluer, an american writer, tags along with John Denison, who pioneered the ice roads of the Northwest Territories, as he cuts yet another series of roads leading from Yellowknife to a silver mine on the far shore of Great Bear Lake. It's a long journey, made to feel even longer as Dension and his crew have to return to Yellowknife several times for several reasons.
But it wasn't completely void of interest. First of all, Edith Iglauer's infiltration into this predominately male world is fascinating, though she does seem to handle it well. Second of all, John Denison is suffering from a severe stomach ulcer that Iglauer seems to be convinced is fatal. (Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Denison lived right on up to 2001.) Denison himself, while not a dynamic or particularly magic individual, did intrigue me somewhat for his drive and determination, his no nonsense demeanor (he even scoffs at Iglauer and some of his other crew members for forming attachements to their vehicles— it's just a truck afterall), and his expertise.
I often remark at how I can find similar humanity and characteristics in short stories from the opposite side of the globe, and yet, in Denison's Ice Road, somehow his drive and motivation are elusive to me. Is it possible to have more in common with a granddaughter from a short story set in Kazakhstan than a fellow Yellowknifer who helps create ice roads? I would have to say yes. John Denison and I would have had nothing, absolutely nothing in common with one another. But that's okay.