In Fond Remembrance of Me: A Memoir of Myth and Uncommon Friendship in the Arctic

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9780865476806: In Fond Remembrance of Me: A Memoir of Myth and Uncommon Friendship in the Arctic

Howard Norman spent the fall of 1977 in Churchill, Manitoba, translating into English two dozen "Noah stories" told to him by an Inuit elder. The folktales reveal what happened when the biblical Noah sailed his Ark into Hudson Bay in search of woolly mammoths and lost his way. By turns startling, tragic, and comical, these inimitable narratives tell the history of the Arctic and capture the collision of cultures precipitated by the arrival of a hapless stranger in a strange land.

Norman himself was then a stranger in a strange land, but he was not alone. In Churchill he encountered Helen Tanizaki, an Anglo-Japanese woman embarked on a similar project--to translate the tales into Japanese. An extraordinary linguist and an exact and compelling friend, Tanizaki became Norman's guide through the characters, stories, and customs he was coming to know, and a remarkable intimacy sprang up between them--all the more intense because it was to be fleeting; Tanizaki was fatally ill.

Through a series of overlapping panels of reality and memory, Norman recaptures with vivid immediacy a brief but life-shifting encounter and the earthy, robust stories that occasioned it.

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About the Author:

Howard Norman is the author of five novels, including The Haunting of L., The Bird Artist, and Northern Lights. He lives with his family in Vermont and Washington, D.C.

From Booklist:

Norman's evocative novels are drenched in the Arctic's treacherous beauty and pragmatic mysticism, and he has chronicled some of his real-life Arctic adventures in My Famous Evening [BKL Mr 15 04]. Here he focuses on his 1977 sojourn in Churchill, Manitoba, where he is sent by a museum to translate stories told by an Inuit elder named Mark Nuqac only to discover that he isn't the only folklorist on the case. His fellow traveler is Helen Tanizaki, a far more accomplished linguist, translator, and expert in Arctic culture, a poetic woman dying of cancer who changes his life. Naturally there is melancholy in this elegant and haunting remembrance, but there is also wonder and comedy, especially in the spiky Inuit tales Nuqac tells about how Noah goes crazy when his ark gets trapped in the ice in the Hudson Bay. As always, Norman has a fine touch, and a keen sense of life's splendor and absurdity, as he turns his lyrical homage to a lost friend into a glimmering reflection on the power of the human spirit. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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