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Consumption by Kevin Patterson
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Consumption

by Kevin Patterson

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2261451,336 (3.71)26
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    2182 kHz by David Masiel (KatyBee)
    KatyBee: Compelling novel in Arctic setting.
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» See also 26 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
I find it difficult to write about Consumption. To write about the book easily requires that the book left an impression - whether good or bad - and this one just fell a bit flat.

Of course, there are interesting aspects of life in the Canadian Arctic that come to light in the book.
Of course, there are stylistic elements that Patterson uses - like the symbolism of consumption in its various meanings - throughout the novel to create the feeling of loss that permeates the novel, in which ideas, history, tradition and people are consumed by the spread of "civilisation".

The trouble is, that the book tried to focus on the lives of too many characters to really portray the specific community that is erased by the advance of modern life. The murder mystery that is added in the second half only adds to distract from the point of the novel. ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
I am going with 3-stars for now, but I am still thinking on this book. It was a bit of a slow build... then a whole whack of crazy activity (almost too much, really)... then.... a bit of a fizzle. In the acknowledgments, Patterson notes that this book was actually, originally, a collection of essays he had been working on. His editor wrangled the essays into novel form. This helped me a bit - at times I did feel that things were priced together, or not flowing too well. The strongest aspect of the novel was how Patterson conveyed such a sense of place, and wonderful depictions of Canada's North. Patterson works as a doctor, and his training and experience certainly came through, adding interesting layers to the story in his depiction of Dr. Balthazar. Unfortunately some plots holes were left and the way some story lines played out left me a bit disappointed and wondering how else things good have gone. Overall, though, I am glad I read this book, and I am enjoying hearing comments and opinions from others who are also reading it as part of a group read on GR. ( )
1 vote Booktrovert | Nov 20, 2015 |
Great anthropological view of the Arctic and the Inuit people. The problems of assimilation, culture versus commerce, old versus new world customs make for an interesting story. Details about the ravages of TB and old-time sanatoria are really interesting. Overall, a penetrating portrait of generational differences and culture clash. ( )
  sushitori | Aug 2, 2013 |
Rankin inlet, arctic Canada. True voice that looks at Inuit sparse but full life
  77nanci | Jan 1, 2013 |
There is a spectacular sense of place in Consumption by Kevin Patterson, a Canadian author. One of the tags on the book says 'Alaska', but that's incorrect. The setting is Rankin Inlet in Nunavut, Canada. Patterson’s characters are very well done, flawed but true to their character. When a nickel mine opened in the late 1950s, Inuits came off the tundra for steady jobs. In their newly close confines, tuberculosis spread. This story is about the changes which came to the native population with the leaving of their old ways.

The three Parts of the story are prefaced with Eskimo poetry, recorded and translated in the early 1920s. The book is also punctuated with medical notes, written by the fictitious doctor in the story. I found these fascinating, both in their application to all bodies, but specifically to the rounding out of the story of these particular Inuit – T.B., diabetes, eyes.

But it is the author’s descriptions of the place and people, how they lived, that brought Rankin Inlet to life in my eyes.

”They had fed earlier in the day, diving hundreds of feet and more to the bottom of Hudson Bay, there to swallow great gulps of mud for the shellfish within, like mining pistachio ice cream for the nuts. The mussels sat in their bellies now, holding their shells as tight as they could, but weakening from the stomach acid and the enzymes. All the walruses had to do was wait for the mussels to exhaust themselves and release their grip. When hunters killed a walrus, the first thing they like to do was slit open the stomach and dig out the opened mussels and swallow them, still warm and bloody and steaming. This is called qalluk and is considered one of the best things there is to eat in the Arctic.”

Not preachy, but a story very well told. 3.6 stars ( )
3 vote countrylife | May 2, 2012 |
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Epigraph
For the sick, the poor, and the ashamed.
Sign above an alms box in Aix-en-Provence,
Described my M.F.K. Fisher in 1953
Dedication
Dedicated to the memory of Thomas Arthur Patterson
1964-2005
First words
Storms are sex.
Quotations
The disease is firstly an expression of poverty and its consequences – especially crowding – and in the Arctic, these were usual. Latent infection endures in almost everyone older than forty – the creature has its hand on these people still. By the time a new outbreak is recognized there are usually dozens of new infections, some apparent, most already gone dormant. …
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385520743, Hardcover)

In Rankin Inlet, a small town bordering the Arctic Ocean, the lives of the Inuit are gradually changing. The caribou and seals are no longer plentiful, and Western commerce has come to the community through a proposed diamond mine. Victoria Robertson wakes to a violent storm, her three children stirring in the dark. Her father, Emo, a legendary hunter who has come in off the land to work in a mine, checks to see if the family is all right. So does her Inuit lover, as Victoria’s British husband is away on business.

Thus the reader enters into the modern contradictions of the Arctic—walrus meat and convenience food, midnight sun and 24-hour satellite TV, dog teams and diamond mines—and into the heart of Victoria's internal exile. Born on the tundra in the 1950s, Victoria knows nothing but the nomadic life of the Inuit until, at the age of ten, she is diagnosed with tuberculosis and evacuated to a southern sanitarium. When she returns home six years later, she finds a radically different world, where the traditionally rootless tribes have uneasily congregated in small communities. And Victoria has become a stranger to her family and her culture.

Victoria compounds her marginalization by marrying a non-Inuit, Robertson, the manager of the town store. Over the years, as her children gravitate toward the pop culture of the mainland, and as her husband aggressively exploits the economic opportunities that the Arctic offers, Victoria feels torn between her family and her ancestors, between the communal life of the North and the material life of the “South.” Through Victoria, Kevin Patterson deftly exposes the costs and consequences of cultural assimilation, and the emotional toll that such significant lifestyle changes take on communities.

Spanning countries, generations, and cultures, Consumption is an epic novel of the Arctic, and a penetrating portrait of generational division and cultural dissonance.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:37 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Born in the 1950s in the Canadian Arctic, Victoria grows up among the nomadic Inuit until, at the age of ten, diagnosed with TB, she is sent to a southern sanitarium, where she discovers the wonders of the modern world.

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