❴Read❵ ➯ Through Black Spruce Author Joseph Boyden – Transportjobsite.co.uk


  • Hardcover
  • 359 pages
  • Through Black Spruce
  • Joseph Boyden
  • English
  • 10 October 2019
  • 9780670020577

10 thoughts on “Through Black Spruce

  1. says:

    I loved this book It was a beautifully written and contemplative novel about the lengths people will go to find ones they love and escape their past It looks interestingly at themes of personal transformation, nature, and family ties Boyden utilizes the dual narration excellently both voices are clear and strong If you re looking for a unique, refreshing story set in Canada, definitely give this a try.


  2. says:

    A great tale of family resilience in remote Ontario settings balanced by narrative excursions to Toronto and New York City It satisfied me by making me care deeply for its cast of characters, feel connected to their challenging rural environment, and empathize with the plight of Native peoples trying to sustain some identity in the larger society Most of all I was impressed with the courage the key characters find to take action in the face of threats to their family.We are treated to two narrative voices One is Will Bird, the Cree son of the character in Three Day Road , who is largely retired from a long career as a bush pilot for sport tourists and thrives on subsistence hunting, fishing, and fur trapping The other is a niece in her 20s, Annie She, her sister Suzanne, and their mother, Will s sister, are about the only family Will has left, as he lost his own wife and children in some disaster in the past which slowly gets revealed Will is telling the story of his life to his nieces, and Annie is telling her story to Will Soon we learn that Will is speaking from a point where he is hiding out in a remote hunting camp on an island in the northern wilderness, and Annie is recounting her story from his bedside at a hospital where he lies in a coma The mysteries of how these points were reached was pretty damned effective as a plot device to hooking me into their intersecting stories.The main setting is Moosonee, a town of less than 2,000 on the Moose River near its entrance to the tip of James Bay The site of an old French trading post, it is accessible by water, rail, snowmobile, and airplane, but not by road A larger settlement and historical site of a 17th century trading post of the Hudson Bay Company, Moose Factory, is nearby on an island in the river, accessible by boat or ice bridge in the winter The island is the site of a Cree reserve, significant commerce, a hospital, and, in Will s youth, where he was forced to attend a residential school after his parents died This outpost of civilization is called the gateway to the Arctic, and I could feel that aspect as a fulcrum for my understanding of Canada as a whole The clarity of perspective of man versus nature was brought home to me in an early passage in the book, where Will recounts surviving a plane crash The quote serves to illustrate Boyden s unassuming and engaging prose and delightful comic edge to serious situations And when the cloud cover left on a winter afternoon a hundred miles plus north of Moosonee in January, the cold came, presented itself in such a forceful way that I had two choices.The first was to assume that the cold was a living thing that chased me and wanted to suck the life from me I could get angry at it, desperate for some sense of fairness in the world, and then begin to panic.Or my second option was to make up my mind that the cold, that nature, was just an unfortunate clash of weather systems If I made my mind up this second way, that the physical word no longer held vengeance and evil just beyond the black shadow of spruce, then I would try to make do with what I had And when I realized what an idiot I was for ending up here all alone without the proper gear just a jean jacket with a sweater under it and running shoes on my feet I d get angry, desperate for some sense of fairness in the world, and begin to panic.Me, I preferred the first option, that Mother Nature was one angry slut She d try to kill you the first chance she got From the beginning we learn that Suzanne has disappeared with a boy from a family of local smugglers and drug dealers Annie is preparing to go after her Her journey takes her first to Toronto, where she learns her sister found work as a model and her boyfriend somehow make enemies with drug dealers there, leading to another disappearance Among the homeless Indians there, Annie meets an elder who gives her spiritual guidance and assigns a man who is unable to speak, Gordon, to stick with her and protect her on her quest Their relationship as they try to negotiate the alien urban landscape was wonderful to watch unfold As the trail takes them to New York City and their money runs out, Annie s inner strengths and competence as a country girl gives her the courage to follow Suzanne s path in work as a model in the fashion industry Gordon provides an anchor as Annie gets too close to the edge of the dissolute wild lifestyle of the high flying crowd and faces the corrupting force of using her heritage to serve as an exotic, ephemeral star of New York society For classic character development and a fish out of water, this story fits right up there with that of Dorothy in Oz.Another aspect of the writing that works so well for me is the interior dialog of the characters with their most significant family members in the face of isolation and danger For example, at the beginning of the book, Will begins to get the message he must take some extraordinary action after he gets beat up by the gang of the brother of Suzanne s boyfriend I don t know how long I lay there Something, someone maybe, told me that I eventually had to surface if I was going to live, and believe it or not, it was a tough decision to make For me, my life s been hard, and sometimes I m so tired out from losing things I love it feels easier to just give up and slip away A voice I knew, the voice of my father, talked to me, and in my head I saw him squatting beside me in the black, on is haunches, his one real leg bent under him, his wooden prosthesis straight out in front like one of those fancy Russian dancers It s not you that you live for, he said to me in Cree It can t be It s the others Not very specific but I knew who he was talking about What do I got to give to anyone I asked I could tell he was looking down on me, staring at my wounds He didn t answer my question.I don t know about you, but I was well moved by the power of Boyden s plain prose to make windows and doors between the natural world and the isolation of the soul Native peoples aren t alone in clinging to the wellsprings of family and cultural roots when the going gets tough I leave you with a passage that gives me some delicious chills as the epitome of the human condition, not too far from the spirit of Robert Frost I ve come to a strange place on this road I d gotten used to this travel, a type of comfort in the slow plod forward, until I came to here.I hear water rushing not so far away, a big river s voice I m scared of it, me I ve not truly felt that feeling so strong till here Something s there, through the black spruce, just on the other side I can t see it yet, though I can t see the stretch of water I have to walk closer if I m to see it The sound of rushing water, it makes me feel like drowning The water closer to shore babbles like children s voices The sound makes me want to go to it But I m afraid


  3. says:

    Update The CBA Canadian Bestsellers Association have handed out the 2009 Libris Awards Joseph won Fiction of the Year for Through Black Spruce He also won author of the year. Joseph s skill in making the narrative ring true is remarkable we learn Will s story while he lies in a coma, and Annie s, too, as she hopes that by hearing her story, her uncle will fight his way out of the coma Marius Netmaker, grandson of Elijah, also has his strong role to play.I read the short, first chapter twice, and then went on to read the rest of the book without putting it down once Literally I read while drinking my morning coffee while putting in my daily exercise on the stepper while eating meals and in front of the fire, well into the night I was transfixed with the two main characters, in this follow up to Three Day Road.If you haven t read Three Day Road, read it first to better appreciate this second, contemporary story It takes place in Northern Ontario Will and Annie , and in Manhattan Annie Two separate stories of two people struggling to find themselves Stories of the traditional Cree living off the land both characters , and Annie s two diverse worlds from strong female trapper, to becoming a model during her search to find her missing sister.Through the telling, we feel the desire in each to find themselves, and in turn, reconnect with one another Family is at the heart a quest, the driving force.Joseph Boyden is a born storyteller I can t recommend this book highly enough.


  4. says:

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  5. says:

    After the achievement that was The Orenda, I found this one super disappointing Orenda, published later, shows a huge leap in maturity for this author What I found highly grating about this book was the dialogue, which was embarrassingly artificial The perspective of Annie was relentlessly two dimensional, as was Boyden s portrayal of the model socialite life in New York I realize that this milieu is notoriously superficial, but Boyden did nothing other than echo stereotypical dialogue of vapid twentysomethings without offering any real insight into their lives Nor did he really offer any insight into the subjectivity of beauty, but really just repeatedly highlighted how utterly beautiful his female protagonist is God knows a female protagonist can t be interesting unless she is exceptionally beautiful Yawn.I have also noticed that Boyden displays a pattern in his writing of having his female protagonists saved from rape by men that ultimately become their protectors For an author who writes so honestly about racial and cultural identity in the modern world, I find this trope about female agency to be limiting and just plain embarrassing Boyden did a much better job of writing a compelling portrayal of the aging bush pilot, and the erosion of his old way of life into one marred by isolation and alcoholism Where Annie and her female companions were effectively cardboard cut outs of young females, Boyden gave real heart to this character, which somewhat saved the book Somewhat.My other criticism of this book is that it is ultimately a snoozefest Devices such as Annie s extended seemingly interminable sojourn in New York did nothing to further the plot This is not to say that I will not be reading Boyden s third book, Three Day Road The Orenda was enough to convince me that Boyden is a talented writer that writes about important Canadian issues Maybe he should just stick to writing about men, though.


  6. says:

    ETA, 12 22 12 Back one year later, thinking about the Attawapiskat First Nation Its Chief, Theresa Spence, is heading into her 12th day of a hunger strike, an act of leadership and heroism that has coincided with the explosion of the IdleNoMore movement I m urging all Canadians reading this to join in solidarity with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters in a call for dialogue, collaboration and action Demand that PM Harper meet with Chief Theresa Spence to make meaningful, immediate progress on the issues of poverty, climate degradation, social injustice and political disenfranchisement that continue to plague Canada s First Nations and all Canadian people and erode Canada s democracy ETA, 11 22 11 The Attawapiskat First Nation, located just north along the shore of James Bay from the setting of Through Black Spruce and mentioned in several different places in the novel,is in crisis A state of emergency has been declared as a result of Third World living conditions in which the 2,000 residents, many of whom are children and elders, have no running water, poor or no sanitation facilities, and sub standard housing And, it s winter.This story has barely made the headlines in the mainstream press, and in the three weeks since the emergency was declared, there has been absolutely NO ACTION on the part of federal or provincial governments to respond.Read this, and weep What if They Declared an Emergency and No One Came Then, please consider signing this.Thank you.__________________________________Happy to have made this the final book in my 2011 GR reading challenge Great characters, unique setting, remarkable dialogue and voice Highly authentic evocation of the Canadian Aboriginal perspective and experience from a bunch of different angles deeply moving, atmospheric, a spiritual journey embedded in a real one two, actually across the rural northern landscape and the southern cities of Toronto, Montreal, NYC The structure two voices, uncle and niece telling each other their stories in alternating chapters was beautifully handled, never gimmicky The dialogue soundedwas so authentic I have northern Ontario ears slightly out of practice , and I could hear these voices clear as ice in my head Ever good, eh So much to love but here s the nub of it, my favourite thing, the most horrible thing really but this novel nailed it so perfectly and with such subtle power the subjugation of Aboriginal culture, spiritual identity, individual personality, the vitality and destruction of family relationships, the impossibility of assimilation leading to the obliteration of choice, cultural genocide these horrific, heartbreaking things ran like a river through this book at a visceral, yet submerged, only rarely surfacing, level Never hammer over the head political, but there as theme, as imagery, as symbolism, as setting So bleak, and yet also strangely optimistic by the end , or perhaps the better description is resilient Just a huge testament to resiliency, and therefore hopeful Every now and then, I thought this book is treading dangerously close to cliche Symbolically I mean, c mon the bears the stoic, silent Indian Yet, every time I heard a slight warning bell in my head, the authenticity of the voice, the veracity of the detail, won me back over.And at the heart of it, a great story.Truly, truly love this book.


  7. says:

    This seems to be a place marker kind of book something to hold in place between Three Day Road and The Orenda Like all place markers, it stands as a static symbol of waiting until one can pick up the story again and indeed, there is a lot of waiting, to no purpose in this novel While Three Day Road was a heartrending journey of finding one s way home and The Orenda was an equally emotional journey back in time, this seems like a long walk to nowhere It s isn t as if it s a bad book it s just not a very good one, given Boyden s ability to shine like the Northern Star, when he wants to when he puts his heart into it We are given two diverging, yet intertwining storylines an uncle who is in a coma in a hospital bed recounts, in his mind, the story of his troubled life to his niece the niece, who is equally troubled, talks to the comatose uncle, and through this therapeutic talk, finds herself again.The entire novel, in fact, is riddled with voiceless people Will cannot speak because he s in a coma the only real conversations that Annie has is with her comatose uncle Will, which can be said to be no conversation at all Gordon, Annie s love interest and protector, is mute and communicates only with a pen and a pad of paper Suzanne, Annie s sister, is missing and so she only speaks through Annie s memories of her It s a wonderful metaphor for the infection that ails the indigenous people never having a say in their own destinies unfortunately, Boyden fails to tease this out in a satisfying way Everyone is voiceless, and then everybody gets back his her voice, abracadabra and presto Huh The novel unravels in the usual tug of war between Canadian indigenous virtues and the painted American Woman of profanity Annie loses herself in the tawdry and competitive world of high fashion models of NYC who are drowning their lives with drugs, booze and sex Oh so predictable, and oh so cheap While Boyden could have made much of this scene by exploring it with real sentiment, it is a surprise to meet only caricatures Annie is saved, and saves herself and Gordon , when she returns to her native roots in Northern Ontario, on the shores of James Bay A little too much of a clich , because it is done too smoothly This placidity, in the face of great harm, is all so improbable that it detracts from what could have been an extraordinary journey of redemption It may sound trite and reductive but that s it that s the story in a nutshell, and on one level is not much profound than this.What saves the novel from complete failure is that Boyden injects Will s character with his signature Boyden incisiveness While we can dismiss Annie s journey out of hand, we are hard pressed to do so with Will, for we connect with him immediately, and viscerally He has a real story to tell, not a cranked out re run from the Oprah syndicate Old men speak in riddles, nieces, but if you listen carefully, they might have something important to tell you.I look forward to listening, again, when Boyden returns to his authentic voice.


  8. says:

    Joseph Boyden has become one of my favorite authors His stories of Native Canadians are extremely moving and thought provoking THROUGH BLACK SPRUCE is set in modern times and is a magnificent read.


  9. says:

    In Joseph Boyden s mesmerizing and beautifully rendered second novel a follow up to Three Day Road former bush pilot Will Bird reflects, Something s there, through the black spruce, just on the other side I can t see it yet, though The something is a strange place in the road the place between traditional ways of life and modernity, between nature and the insidious effects of the drug culture, between life and death There are two stories that are expertly interwoven here the story of Will, deep in a coma, who reflects on the adventures and tribulations of his life and what has led him to this hospital bed And the story of Annie, his niece, who is on a quest to find her missing sister, a one time top fashion model in New York City who has lived the high life in every sense of the word.Joseph Boyden captures the Cree language and sensibility and there are truly gorgeous and memorable moments in this book such as Will s connection with an aging bear sow, who, like Will, is experiencing a world of loss Boyden breathes fresh air into the life of this aging hunter who is losing his designation as the bush man in this town and who deplores the blood feuds and drug dealing that have taken hold of his community.Annie, too, is lost in the foreign world of high stakes modeling in New York where she ends up in her search for her sister a high octane world where human connections mean little and the drug Ecstasy rules the day After being summoned back home, she and Will strive to rescue each other through the bracing honesty of confessing their experiences.This gripping novel taking us from a sterile hospital room to the primordial edges of the secluded James Bay, from the northern backwoods of Ontario to the glittering high rises of the Big Apple only falters at the end, with a tie it all together ending that is unworthy of the rest of the book It s a stunning book, worthy of the Scotibank Giller Prize it so richly earned.


  10. says:

    Sometimes I just feel privileged to have a particular book in front of me Perhaps other people have a methodical and logical way of finding books For me it I think it is mostly just pure luck Yes, I am an active seeker and yes I have finally learned what it is I like best I also know that until I actually open the book and begin to read, finding the right book at the right time is still a crapshoot.If it were not for wanting to read WWI fiction, I d have never found Joseph Boyden Through Black Spruce has nothing to do with WWI, other than one of the two narrators, Will Bird, is the son of that Xavier Bird of Boyden s earlier book, Three Day Road And even so, it doesn t really matter as I could just have easily read this without the former.This is told in the first person in alternating chapters between Will Bird and his niece, Annie Bird The very first thing that struck me is how distinct are the voices First of all, for Will, Boyden gets the cadence right Some 20% of the population of Ketchikan is Native and I know that the elders speak with an accent My ear isn t good enough to know if that accent is different according to tribe, and I most certainly don t know if a Cree accent is similar to a Haida accent I just know there is one And then when Annie speaks there is no accent She is young I think and I can only surmise about a majority that people who are bilingual from their earliest ages speak without an accent in either language, that both languages are native to them.Will Bird is in a coma I probably should have been disoriented that he could tell his story I wasn t and somehow it seemed entirely natural Annie tells her story to her uncle while sitting at his bedside I came to know each of them, and well I also came to understand some of the Native ways Prose, characterization and plot are all well done.Not just once did I think of Louise Erdrich and how reading her has given me a better understanding of the Native experience I m not sure why I m compelled to keep reading, to keep trying to understand, but I do know these authors are masters Need I bother to say this is a full unequivocal 5 stars


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Through Black Sprucecharacters Through Black Spruce, audiobook Through Black Spruce, files book Through Black Spruce, today Through Black Spruce, Through Black Spruce 0c05a A Haunting Novel About Identity, Love, And Loss By The Author Of Three Day RoadWill Bird Is A Legendary Cree Bush Pilot, Now Lying In A Coma In A Hospital In His Hometown Of Moose Factory, Ontario His Niece Annie Bird, Beautiful And Self Reliant, Has Returned From Her Own Perilous Journey To Sit Beside His Bed Broken In Different Ways, The Two Take Silent Communion In Their Unspoken Kinship, And The Story That Unfolds Is Rife With Heartbreak, Fierce Love, Ancient Blood Feuds, Mysterious Disappearances, Fires, Plane Crashes, Murders, And The Bonds That Hold A Family, And A People, Together As Will And Annie Reveal Their Secrets The Tragic Betrayal That Cost Will His Family, Annie S Desperate Search For Her Missing Sister, The Famous Model Suzanne A Remarkable Saga Of Resilience And Destiny Takes Shape From The Dangerous Bush Country Of Upper Canada To The Drug Fueled Glamour Of The Manhattan Club Scene, Joseph Boyden Tracks His Characters With A Keen Eye For The Telling Detail And A Rare Empathy For The Empty Places Concealed Within The Heart Sure To Appeal To Readers Of Louise Erdrich And Jim Harrison, Through Black Spruce Establishes Boyden As A Writer Of Startling Originality And Uncommon Power


About the Author: Joseph Boyden

Joseph Boyden is a Canadian novelist and short story writer.He grew up in Willowdale, North York, Ontario and attended the Jesuit run Brebeuf College School Boyden s father Raymond Wilfrid Boyden was a medical officer renowned for his bravery, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and was the highest decorated medical officer of World War II.Boyden, of Irish, Scottish and M tis heritage