Thursday, December 19, 2013

Reader's Diary #1094- Brian Nagel: Let's Forefoot da Sonovabitch

I was excited to first hear about this book. In the Canadian Book Challenge I try to read 13 books, each from a different province and territory, as well 13 additional books from North of 60. Saskatchewan typically winds up being difficult to find a book for, so Brian Nagel's Let's Forefoot da Sonovabitch covers that angle, and seeing as Brian Nagel has been a Yellowknifer for a good many years now, I could also add it to the North of 60 category as well. Not often does one find a book with a Saskatchewan- Northwest Territories connection!

For the most part these are pleasantly told, mildly amusing anecdotes from Nagel's childhood growing up in rural Saskatchewan. Readers like myself, from other parts of Canada and from a different generation, will find themselves almost unwittingly drawing comparisons between their own childhoods and Nagel's. From a small outport Newfoundland community, I was surprised to find as many similarities as I did. Those were mostly based on the rural nature of Nagel's tales as well as the close familial bonds. Of course, the differences were much more obvious. (I honestly can't say that horses, for instance, were relevant to my upbringing-- but then, my father has a few horse stories and he grew up in the same town, so this may be more of a generational difference than a geographical one.)

However, Nagel's anecdotes are hit or miss, and when he misses, he misses big. Ever been around someone when they're trying to recount a personal experience but find themselves in hysterics? You're sitting there failing to understand why he finds this so funny and hoping that you can fake an enthusiastic enough response to not appear insulting? The old "I guess you had to be there" scenario. Worse with Nagel's misses? Not only did I fail to see the humour in some, I actually find some of the people he so obviously remembers fondly to be... not so great people. Animal abuse? (I'm not talking about the typical livestock stories, either.) Drinking and driving? Maybe something gets lost in the telling, but I doubt I'd be able to muster up a smile for those particular stories even if I was to hear them in person.

If any case, one would still get a sense of life in rural Saskatchewan, even if it's not always pretty.

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