*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: My Conversations with Canadians
Author: Lee Maracle
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Harkening back to her first book tour at the age of 26 (for the autobiographical novel Bobbi Lee: Indian Rebel), and touching down upon a multitude of experiences she’s had as a Canadian, a First Nations leader, a woman and mother and grandmother over the course of her life, Lee Maracle’s Conversations with Canadians presents a tour de force exploration into the writer’s own history and a re-imagining of the future of our nation.
In this latest addition to BookThug’s Essais Series (edited by poet Julie Joosten), Maracle’s writing works to engage readers in thinking about the threads that keep Canadians tied together as a nation–and also, at times, threaten to pull us apart–so that the sense of sovereignty and nationhood that she feels may be understood and even embraced by Canadians.
Maracle’s My Conversations with Canadians is a thoughtful collection of essays on Maracle’s experience as a Sto:lo, a woman, a leader, a mother and grandmother throughout her life. Her writing seeks to provoke reflection, introspection, change, and dialogue. This brief yet powerful set of thirteen conversations demonstrates why Maracle is such a strong voice and a force for change in this country. She tackles issues of feminism, colonialism, the patriarchy, motherhood, birthright, and tradition.
I should preface this by saying that this is the first time I’ve read Maracle’s writing in depth. I have read singular essays of hers in university, and I’ve seen her speak a few times. But having not much knowledge of her past writings, in My Conversations, I think sometimes Maracle moves too quickly through her arguments. Throughout this collection she’ll present a thought or argument without going into too much detail. Certain selections like “Conversation 9: Divisions, constraints, and bindings” or “Conversation 11: How does colonialism work?” are so short, that I didn’t feel like I got the full effect of Maracle’s writing. She just gets going and the essay is over with. I would have liked to see further writing here to develop these selections further instead of quickly glossing over these topics. In contrast, other conversations dive right in and share Maracle’s personal anecdotes alongside in depth study and discussion. In many of her conversations she fully develops her arguments and dives into the details to get her message across.
Maracle balances humour with seriousness, effectively driving her points home and impressing upon the reader the gravity of her words. She gravely addresses issues, including her discussion of the residential school system and the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. Throughout this collection though, Maracle offers glimpses of her humour and lightheartedness, showing her personality alongside her message. Overall, she speaks her truth and her message to convey her experiences and stories in order to grab Canada’s attention.