Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Reader's Diary #1084- Dawn Kostelnik: The White Girl
Today Kostelnik lives in Whitehorse, Yukon where these autobiographical anecdotes first appeared as a weekly feature in The Whitehorse Star. The White Girl is self-published. However, knowing they first appeared in a newspaper, I held onto hope that the stories would not be rife with typos as is typically the case with self-published books. Alas, they were. The most pervasive was the odd spelling of story as storey. This one occurred often and without fail. It got to the point that I suspected it was an artistic thing, referring to a story as a layer, like a storey of a building. However, the number of other typos makes me suspect it's wishful thinking on my part.
If you can get past those, The White Girl is an interesting look at one person's experience in several Northern communities in the 60s and 70s. Sometimes it's unclear from an outsider, through no fault of Kostelnik's, whether one might still experience such things in those communities or if life is drastically different there today. At other times it's very obvious that you would not, like in stories about having only pre-recorded TV broadcasts that were a week old. But details aside, Kostelnik's tough and amusing, sometimes thoughtful, personality is the most engaging aspect of the book. Despite the title, drawing attention to the fact that she was a minority in these towns, I didn't find many stories preoccupied with race (the last one is a notable exception). Life could be rough, for sure, but there was also a lot of laughter and adventure. Kostelnik seems to look back on all of it with affection and gratitude for having shaped the person she became.