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Reading: Joseph Boyden, Three Day Road

josephboydenJoseph Boyden will be reading from his award-winning book Three Day Road at the Charles W. Stockey Centre in Parry Sound on Tuesday, November 14, at 7:30 p.m. Three Day Road has been a favorite with readers since its release a year and a half ago. It is truly one of the best novels I have ever read. I have sold it to both men and women and the universal opinion is that it is one of the best novels ever read!

Three Day Road is, in part, inspired by the legendry Francis Pegamahgabow, the great sniper of World War I, whom Mr. Boyden heard about from his father during the Georgian Bay summers of his childhood, as well as by Henry Norwest, a Métis marksman from Alberta who fought at Vimy Ridge and was killed a month before the Great War ended. Three Day Road is a mesmerizing novel told through the eyes of Niska, the last Canadian Oji-Cree woman living off the land, and her nephew Xavier.

At the urging of his only friend, Elijah, a Cree boy raised in reserve schools, Xavier joins the war effort. The boys travel in their moccasins from Moose Factory to Toronto to enlist. The boys are not only marginalized from the Canadian soldiers by their native appearance and hand-sewn moccasins, but by the fine marksmanship that years of hunting has taught them. Their reputations as snipers build, but while Xavier struggles to understand the purpose of the war and to come to terms with his conscience for the many lives he has ended, Elijah becomes obsessed with killing, taking great risks to become the most accomplished and renowned sniper.

Intertwined with this account, cradling it, is the story of Niska, who takes in her wounded nephew and who herself has borne witness to a lifetime of death - the death of her people.

Impeccably researched, beautifully written, and told with unblinking focus, this novel is a dramatic journey- the three-day road we must all take - that will move readers beyond measure.

This is not the first time that Joseph Boyden has created some buzz in Canadian literary circles. His short story collection Born with a Tooth was published in 2001 to rave reviews. Reading these stories you realized a genuinely new talent was emerging. The stories focus on the problems of the North American culture as they relate to the native experience and the writing is brilliant.

Interestingly, Native readers have been of two opinions about these stories - older people saying “this is my life” and younger readers, perhaps rightly, expressing concern of stereotyping. They are stories written by a young writer, learning to write and emerging as a mature and sophisticated artist.

Though he has some Métis heritage, along with his Scottish-Irish roots, Mr. Boyden makes no claims to being Indian.

He was one of 11 children of a military family. His father, who died when Joseph was eight, had served as a front-line doctor in the Italian campaign and became the most decorated medical man of World War II. Military history became the future author’s preferred reading as a way of trying to get close to his deceased father.

Joseph Boyden grew up in Toronto and Georgian Bay and for many years taught communications in the Aboriginal studies program of Northern College, which has campuses in Timmins and Moosonee. He now teaches creative writing at the University of New Orleans, and divides his time between New Orleans and Northern Ontario. He has family in the Parry Sound area.

Mr. Boyden will be accompanied by his wife, the writer Amanda Boyden, who will read from her new novel Pretty Little Dirty.

This novel is the story of Lisa, who sees the life of her gorgeous best friend, Celeste Diamond, as just about perfect. Celeste has a gigantic house, two older sisters to coach her through the hazards of high school, and loving, lively parents.

As Lisa’s own home has long been a place devoid of joyful noise, she joins the Diamond household, slipping into their routine of sit-down suppers and soaking in the delicious normalcy of family life. But what begins as the story of two young women living a charmed existence soon swirls into an intoxicating novel of art, music, and self-destructive impulses.

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Don’t miss the opportunity to meet Joseph and Amanda Boyden at the Charles W. Stockey Centre at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 14. This will truly be an unforgettable event.

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