Joseph Boyden Three Day Road

ISBN 13: 9780670063628

Three Day Road

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9780670063628: Three Day Road

THREE DAY ROAD is a First World War novel told through the eyes of two Canadian Cree Indians: Niska, the last Indian woman living off the land in Canada, and her nephew, Xavier, who reluctantly joins the far-away war at the urging of his only friend, Elijah - a Cree boy raised in the reservation schools. Weaving between the horrors of the trenches and the wastes of No-man's land (where Elijah and Xavier hone their hunting skills as snipers and react in their very different ways to the never-ending carnage around them), and Niska's memories of growing up in the snowy wilderness of the Canadian North, the stories of aunt and nephew counterpoint each other forming a rich and spellbinding tapestry.Powerful, poignant and utterly compelling, THREE DAY ROAD is a novel about war and loyalty; ancestors and history; friendship and family, and the dark secrets of the human heart. It tells the story of the unknown, and unsung Indian snipers of the Great War, offers a unique and unforgettable account of life in the trenches and paints an evocative portrait of wilderness existence and the death of the Indian way of life.

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Review:

Joseph Boyden's first novel is the story of two Cree friends, Xavier and Elijah, who leave their pristine northern country to end up in the horrific trenches of World War I. Loosely based on the real life of a famous Canadian sniper, the story is told from two first-person views: those of Xavier and his old aunt and only living relative, Niska. After the war, Niska is taking her wounded nephew back home north to the bush in a canoe. Their trip is the three-day road of the title, which also refers to the journey taken after death. The story of the war is told in flashbacks on this journey as Xavier recovers from morphine addiction. Niska also relates various stories to Xavier, believing there is "medicine in the tale."

Boyden is a natural storyteller. Both the Native tales of the north and the grim accounts of the war in France and Belgium have the ring of truth. His images can be subtly appropriate--raiders who go over the top are "eaten by the night"--and his characterizations are excellent, especially the three main players and Xavier's Canadian trenchmates. Eventually, Elijah seems to feed on the death all around him, becoming a "windigo," while Xavier begins to question the sanity of the war and his friend's growing madness, realizing "we all fight on two fronts, the one facing the enemy, the one facing what we do to the enemy." Not for the squeamish reader, this is a powerful novel that takes a new angle on a popular subject, "the war to end all wars." --Mark Frutkin, Amazon.ca

About the Author:

Joseph Boyden is the author of a collection of stories. He is a regular contributor to a number of magazines in Canada. He divides his time between Ontario and Louisiana, where he teaches English at the University of New Orleans. This is his first novel.

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