sage's Reviews > Walking on the Land

Walking on the Land by Farley Mowat
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's review
Mar 12, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: canada, history, nonfiction, queer-interest, did-i-have-comments

** spoiler alert ** Gah. Heartwrenching and at times stomach-turning true story of a tiny Inuit community in the 1950s. Published in 2001, Mowat did NOT write this story when he published People of the Deer in the late 50s because this was deemed too horrific.

The GLBT-interest tag is used because the male rural settlement nurse was raping the men and boys of the village -- and they couldn't lock him up because he was the only person qualified to administer care to the ill.

Mowat was about 80 when he wrote this book and he mellowed considerably. There's anger in the book, but mostly helpless grief for the needless deaths of all those people he knew.

What I'm most left with is the impression of 1950s Canada as a place with a fundamental absence of sane leadership. Crazy missionaries. Autocratic RCMP post-heads. Inuit who, against all logic, stayed where they were instead of packing up and moving someplace with food. If there's a rational explanation for any of this, Mowat doesn't give it. And I don't get it. I would sled or canoe or walk until I found a community to take me in; this whole lying down to die thing is almost as bad as the white leadership's criminal neglect of their obligations.

My American frontierism is showing, I know, but honestly. *headdesk*

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Punk (new)

Punk I'm a little troubled that you're using "glbt-interest" when books contain same-sex sexual assault. Sexual assault is not the same thing as sexual orientation. You did something similar in your review of Flight.

I do like that you've explained why you used the tag, because while I am drawn to stories that have GLBT themes, I am not interested in reading stories about rape, and this saves me the unhappy surprise.

Obviously they're your tags and you are free to use them as you like, but it made me uncomfortable, and I felt like I needed to say something.

sage Punk wrote: "I'm a little troubled that you're using "glbt-interest" when books contain same-sex sexual assault. Sexual assault is not the same thing as sexual orientation. You did something similar in your rev..."

My profile page has an explanation of how I use the tag for both positive and negative views. But essentially, back in grad school some of the people I knew doing queer studies made a point of noting the occurrences of same-sex sexual contact, whether by consent or assault, in literature. The idea was to look at fictional stereotyping and further character development -- or lack thereof -- wrt sexuality.

It got me in the habit of noticing the different ways same-sex sexuality (consensual and not) are portrayed in different settings, time periods, racial power dynamics, etc. So "interest" is meant to be of academic interest rather than slashyfuntimes interest. That's the erotica tag. *g*

message 3: by Punk (new)

Punk I did read your profile page; it mentions queer characters that "end up dead and/or turn out to be evil." That didn't quite prepare me for your use of that tag on this review.

But your explanation here clears things up: the tag means it's of academic interest, not necessarily of interest to non-academic GLBT people. I can live with that, especially if you continue to note what about the book led you to give it that label. Thanks for explaining your intentions.

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