Comments for Wolf Willow
I wish I could remember the name of every author and every book I've ever read. I can't. My memory is reliable for about a year's worth of reading. After that only the most remarkable books (good and bad) stick. To aid my memory I have a list of everything I've read going back to 1987. Despite my list keeping I'm still surprised sometimes when I "rediscover" an author. I've mentioned this happening with Neil Gaiman and now it's happened with Wallace Stegner.
Wallace Stegner was a Canadian author who wrote fiction and non-fiction. Back in 2005 I thoroughly enjoyed Angle of Repose. Now for the Canada Reads 3 challenge, I've read one of his non-fiction books, Wolf Willow.
Wolf Willow is formally a memoir but it's a memoir in the same way that Tales from Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett is. It's part memoir, part history and part fiction.
Perhaps I don't know enough about the history of the border area between Saskatchewan, Montana and North Dakota but the book didn't hold my attention as Angle of Repose did.
There were a few moments though that I will remember beyond the point where I forget the title, the author and when I read it. The first of those is Stegner's description of the culture shock between winter and summer. During the winter he traveled north into town to go to school. There he was clearly in Canada. Then during the summer he'd be on the farm plowing the fields that butted up against the 49th parallel. He could through rocks into the United States. He watched life go by on America prairies. As a kid growing on a border town I related to Stegner's sentiments.
My second favorite scene was a description of a particular Mountie who was a local legend for his ability to get his man no matter the circumstances. With the rural location and the (I'm guessing exaggerated) description of his feats, I couldn't help but think of Benton Fraiser from Due South.
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