Tomorrow, I will be on the move.

So many of the books currently occupying a position in my stacks are bulky and heavy, that it was easy to choose amongst the skinny residents.

Roy AltamontI have one more story to read in Gabrielle Roy’s The Road Past Altamont. There are only three in total, and I especially enjoyed the one about the little girl and her grandmother and, also, the trip she takes with an older man to see Lake Winnipeg (I love tales of friendship between children and an elderly man/woman).

The way that the narrator describes the prairie landscape is striking, and I love the talk of patchwork fields like a chess board. This collection reminds me of Roy’s Street of Riches, and when I am finished this last story, I will be poised to begin a reread of Windflower (which will also make for good company while on the move).

I’m also nearing the end of Cornelia Hoogland’s Marrying the Animals. Previously I have read the section “In the Meantime: Elizabeth Smart Poems”, but this time I am reading through, skipping that section, planning to end with a reread of it.

The flag from my last reading is still in place, marking the final passage from that segment:

Hoogland Marrying the Animals“With time I got better
at seeing him off at the gate, the harbour,
all the exits. It took days
to rid the chair, cup, windlowlight
of his image. 

And then the long in-the-meantime
learning chair, cup over again.”

This makes me want to reread Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. And then I think of another skinny companion, Kim Echlin’s Elizabeth Smart: A Fugue on Women and Creativity.

Yolen Briar RoseJane Yolen’s Briar Rose actually weighs less than my skinny little paperback of Gabrielle Roy’s collection, but it is about twice as long.

The initial story, framed by the tale of three sisters, who are remembering their grandmother’s oft-told bedtime story, made for comfortable reading. The final third of the novel is hard going.

This segment I am reading, titled “Castle”, is poised to connect with the grandmother’s tale, although it begins with Josef Poteocki, who wears a pink triangle in Sachenhausen, which was a Nazi labour camp, not strictly a death camp although that “distinction was lost on the 100,000 people who died there”.

The intertwining of a fairy tale and its retelling, a personal herstory in the context of an historical chronicle: Briar Rose is beautiful and haunting, one of the books too-long-unread on my shelves, and a real fairy-tale.

Besides these lovelies, there is a new “Maisonneuve” in my bookbag, along with the summer fiction issue of “The Walrus”, and a picture-book by Gabrielle Roy as well: The Tortoiseshell and the Pekinese,  which is illustrated by Jean-Yves Ahern and translated by Patricia Claxton.

The opening page settles the story securely in the territory of Cliptail (Courte-Queue), with the four-leggeds next to the stove for warmth, and there are kittens here too. I’m not sure that I would have enjoyed either story as much as a girl; the cat-factor was always an instant-win where my affections were concerned, but I had a child-of-Disney’s expectations for action and romance, whereas these tales are understated and quietly satisfying.

My train ride is only 25 minutes one way: do you think I’ve over-packed?