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.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.
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]
Sunday, April 22, 2007
In the skin of a lion, in the style of a dog
Phil Marchand on Ondaatje's newest: