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Kanata by Don Gillmor
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Kanata

by Don Gillmor

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332507,839 (3.1)5

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This was an enjoyable walk through Canadian history; mathgirl is correct that the subject can no longer be considered dull.

I have to come down on the side of saying that Gillmor was not quite successful, however. This was a book where the maps were practically characters. Most especially Thompson's map, of course, but also the deerskin map of WWI troop movements, the mural map of Canada's history (and the map of Alberta that might make this book much more accessible to non-Albertans who've probably never heard of Jumping Pound Creek or the King Eddy). Perhaps a revised edition with visuals might help this make the leap to a truly great work of Canadian fiction.

But neither Gillmor's ambition, nor his skill as a writer, can be in any doubt, and I'm eagerly looking forward to his next book! ( )
  Heduanna | Sep 17, 2010 |
Kanata is a fictional work based on the lives of explorer and cartographer David Thompson and his descendants. The novel starts with Thompson's journey from England and his exploration of western Canada, but it is the story of Michael Mountain Horse, a history teacher descended from Thompson's illegitimate son, that takes up most of the book.

The scope of Kanata is huge, covering two centuries, dozens of characters and several countries. Interspersed among the episodes from Thompson's and Mountain Horse's lives are glimpses from the lives and thoughts of Louis Riel, John A. Macdonald, Norman Bethune, John Diefenbaker, and other historical figures.

This book conveys Canada's history, but it is nothing like the Canadian history I learned in school. We see all facets of our heroes. At times, they are brilliant, courageous, arrogant, forward-thinking, indecisive, and in some cases, near psychotic. Kanata is an ambitious attempt to show how this great country was formed. Whether Gillmor is deemed successful or not, one cannot say anymore after reading this book that Canadian history is dull. ( )
5 vote mathgirl40 | Oct 25, 2009 |
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This is an ideal work for the airport bookstore – a snappily written, fast-paced piece of historical fiction that would make an enjoyable read for the Japanese tourist, the American business traveller or, dare I say it, the politician who happens to be “just visiting” and needs to bone up on his Canadian history....There are no hard and fast rules that say what you can or cannot do when writing historical fiction. But just as surely as you can't erect a solid house on a shaky foundation, you can't make good fiction out of bad history.

 

Since 2006, the publication of two impressive if dramatically different tomes, Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes and Kenneth J. Harvey’s Blackstrap Hawco, suggests that large-canvas approaches to imagining the Canadian experience aren’t as rare as some may think or lament, myself (and a certain literary prize juror from Britain) included. With his first novel, Kanata, Toronto journalist Don Gillmor has staked out a place in Hill and Harvey’s company.

 
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"Longing on a large scale is what makes history." Don DeLillo, Underworld

"Maps are slippery customers." J.B. Harley, " Deconstructing the Map"
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FOR GRAZYNA
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The light leaked through red cirrus clouds over the eastern hills as two hawks floated in elliptical descent.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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From Indigo/Chapters website book description: From the author of Canada: A People's History comes a novel of Canada written in the tradition of such great epics as The Source and Sarum.

Kanata was inspired by the life of David Thompson, a Welshman who came to the New World at the age of fifteen, and went on to become its greatest cartographer. He walked or paddled 80,000 miles and mapped 1.9 million square miles, cataloguing flora and fauna as well as the language and customs of the Natives. But though he has been described as the greatest land geographer who ever lived, he died impoverished and unknown.

Following the lives of Thompson's illegitimate son and his descendants, Kanata takes readers on a fictionalized, multi-generational journey through millennia and across a continent to examine the stories, myths, and legends of those who formed the country and who were formed by it.

Kanata is the story of the invention of a nation.

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From the author of Canada: A People's History comes a novel of Canada written in the tradition of such great epics as The Source and Sarum. was inspired by the life of David Thompson, a Welshman who came to the New World at the age of fifteen, and went on to become its greatest cartographer. He walked or paddled 80,000 miles and mapped 1.9 million square miles, cataloguing flora and fauna as well as the language and customs of the Natives. But though he has been described as the greatest land geographer who ever lived, he died impoverished and unknown. Kanata Following the lives of Thompson's illegitimate son and his descendants, Kanata takes readers on a fictionalized, multi-generational journey through millennia and across a continent to examine the stories, myths, and legends of those who formed the country and who were formed by it. Kanata is the story of the invention of a nation.

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