Alistair MacLeod’s final story is a definite gift to us, and is a very fitting tribute for Remembrance Day reading. Remembrance was a wonderful short story, and one where I so wished for more, where I easily could have spent many more hours reading this far too short story.
David MacDonald is waiting for his son and grandson, early morning, November 11. He has affirmed that this will be his last time he participates in Remembrance Day ceremonies. Every year, since the end of his time served during WWII, David has participated in the parades, stood at the Cenotaph, gone to the schools to talk about his experiences and done whatever else has been asked of him as a veteran of WWII. He acknowledges no one remains now from WWI and he is one of the few remaining of his comrades from WWII. He is fine to leave these duties of remembering to the new veterans, those that have fought the Korean, Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
While David is waiting, he remembers the reason why he enlisted, he remembers the brutal experiences of fighting and a moment when he released prisoners, and his experiences upon returning home from the war. It then shifts to the perspective of his grandson, also David MacDonald, as he describes how the war impacted their family, his grandfather and his own life.
A mere thirty pages that were filled with rich imagery and heartbreaking detail. Again, those thirty pages left me longing for much, much more.
The Wars by Timothy Findley, long considered a classic, is being read for the Goodreads CBC Reads Monthly Reads for November. This is my first foray ever into this reading group and I was intrigued by the selection. The Wars is the November monthly pick so it is to be read over the course of the month with discussion taking place during each scheduled section that the book is broken down into. This is also the first time I have read The Wars, although there are a number in the group that had already done so through assigned high school reading.
The Wars is definitely a grand book to be reading in this manner, it is so visually rich and thick with symbolism. For that reason it has been a real pleasure to be able to hear from the other readers in this group. It is to be read over the course of the month, so it won’t be finished until the end of November, but already just after finishing the first section there has been plenty to discuss. Heralded as a classic tale of lost innocence, we have also been discussing this as well as the imagery and the symbolism running throughout (certainly about the horses) the first section. We’ve broken down the title, “The Wars” as it is in the plural, and there is definitely more than one war being waged in this story.
Our journey with Robert Ross has been a very rewarding one so far, and while it is may feel at times difficult to read in sections, I am keen to keeping to the schedule because breaking down the imagery and symbolism in the first section has been an incredibly enlightening experience for me.