Eden Robinson, Monkey Beach

I enjoyed my first read of Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach, enough that I decided to teach it this fall in my BC literature and environment course without taking the trouble to read it a second time first. After my positive experience of rereading Harold Rhenisch's Tom Thomson's Shack, I was worried that I'd be jinxed for the other books that I chose for this course without going through them again.

There's a Robinson story in The Vancouver Stories: West Coast Fiction from Canada's Best Writers, a volume I picked up recently and flipped through. The story focuses on one of the important minor characters in Monkey Beach, a girl I don't particularly get (or like much), and while I'm still somewhat puzzled by her, it makes more sense now.

Tom Thomson's Shack was a better experience this time, but probably because I was worried about how it'd go. I'm comfortable with teaching this one, and I'll probably open the course with it because it should be a fun opening for the students. We'll see! Like I said last time, go and read this book. At some points it almost feels like a young-adult novel, but if you don't like that sort of thing, maybe pretend I just called it accessible and open hearted. Monkey Beach is well worth spending time with, and I'd encourage you to do that.

(But there are a couple of continuity errors in this book - or maybe Canadian swimmers were medalling at the Moscow Olympics because it's fiction, like an alternate reality?)

(Oh, and John, I'm not putting this one in for the Second Canadian Book Challenge. I'm making the executive decision that for me, I'm not going to count as legit a second read with less than a 12-month interval! This means I'm retracting my reread of Rhenisch from the count.)


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