Sunday, April 22, 2007

In the skin of a lion, in the style of a dog

Phil Marchand on Ondaatje's newest:
The novel begins in the 1970s. A family – a widower, his teen-aged daughter, Anna, an adopted teen-aged orphan girl, Claire, and a slightly older adopted orphan boy named Coop – work a farm in northern California. The taciturn Coop is the "idol" of the girls. Perhaps inevitably, Coop and Anna, 16, begin an affair after Coop has moved into a cabin.

I say "perhaps inevitably" because nearly all the major characters in the novel, faced for any prolonged length of time with an individual of the opposite sex, have sex with that character. (Much of the sex involves penetration of the female from behind – future Ondaatje scholars can puzzle this one out.)
[Emphasis mine]
Oddly but interestingly, this from-behind tendency is one I noticed in Michael Winter's more-than-a-little Ondaatje-esque novel The Big Why, which I reviewed for Saturday Night magazine way back when. This is all perhaps completely irrelevant and childish, but is nonetheless a fine example of the Raised Eyebrow school of literary criticism.

1 comment:

William Appropriate said...

My friend, it all relates back to his poem The Cinnamon Peeler. Michael O. is one bad mammajamma.