"Home is where we bury our dead," she uttered, "and by the looks of things, you've been tracking cemetery dirt around for some time now."
When I consider the lives of my friends who were born in this country, I often think about how lucky they are to have spent so much time in one place. I envy them for being able to effortlessly drive past the old schools and homes they grew up in, walk through the fields, parks, and ravines in which they played as children, or revisit the mundane landmarks that are made special by enduring remembrances of young love. Do not misunderstand me - it is not that I do not consider Canada to be my home, or that I do not value the insights gained from having lived in other parts of the world, but I think that things would be much simpler had I been born a good ol' Canuck. It would save me, for instance, from having to explain to incredulous interlocutors why a good number of South Africans are not African African, or that not all of us are Dutch and British, or from insisting that among South Africa's thirteen official languages, Spanish is not counted. But more than that, however, I enjoy the thought of sharing a common and uninterrupted history with members of a community, of being stationary long enough to gather moss. Like other immigrants living in Canada, I have assimilated into this wonderful and inclusive culture, but fear that I might forever remain an outsider looking in.
Reviewed by Leena Falciglia
Published Saturday June 10, 2012 10:48AM EDT
By John Vaillant, Vintage, 329 pages, $22
The ancient tenuous relationship between man and animal, and the delicate balance between predator and prey are a major driving force behind evolution. As predator density increases, the number of prey consumed also increases, forcing the prey to adapt to avoid consumption. Disturbing this delicate balance would mean a disturbance in our ecosystem. Whether you perceive this read as a contest of wills, a struggle of power, or a fight to the finish, this remarkable book that keeps you wondering whose side you're on, remains a story of survival.
The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival
By John Vaillant
Reviewed by: Gabriel Millard
The world is about to lose one the most proficient and mystic predators it has ever seen. Thanks to the destruction of their homeland from forestry and mass killings by humans, the number of wild Amur tigers has dropped from around 7500 at the beginning of the 20th century to around 450 just over 100 years later, a staggering number made even more unbelievable when compared with the fact there's 2000 living in captivity in the state of Texas alone. (Vaillant 296) John Vaillant has created this novel from the gripping true story of one tiger that was driven to madness by humans' greed in order to raise awareness for this majestic species. The question Vaillant proposes is can we really sit back and watch as this majestic species that has lived with us since our humble beginnings, is simply wiped off the face of this planet.
In John Vaillant's book The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival he outlines the bloody aftermath that can happen when humans blindly violate Mother Nature's code. He provides compelling examples and allusions that serve to bring awareness to the senseless destruction, we as humans are causing to the delicate ecosystem in which we are a part of. Vaillant expertly describes the current destruction of people, wildlife, and environment in eastern Russia, which makes it difficult to ignore the devastating problems faced by its inhabitants.
Image source: Flickr
I meet grey sky with muscles and blood, hot breath exploding
not like clouds not like soft pockets of air but the earth opening
the earth expelling secrets heavy with sweat and ocean, the same salt
binding two to atmosphere and ozone, the trampled sky
the earth panting, i do i do i do
the wind that keeps me moving the wind that keeps me alive
the sweat barking up my spine chasing my back
the drum of my legs shouting, keeping my hands below
my heart circling, i give i give i give
I gasp for air and know what blood on the inside feels like
rushing from the heart knowing no longer breathing, your full circle completed
spilling air now like baskets of laundry, the clean tumble of white clutching
the wind in a small fist telling god, it is it is it is
the descent slower, less manic, grey turning to clouded sun,
one last wooden step in the manmade case of two hundred and fifty,
the small bare things that keep us alive.
Image source: flickr
Hospitals are bad mad sad I'm god or I used to be - did you quit or were you fired? from the inside, I found airplanes on the inside their engines roaring in my head the same way another person would write about a lover being on the inside, filling their spaces with important things like skin, blood well that's not what I had I had a fullness of noise of invisible things to the human eye, explosion guts in my mouth my hand could touch so many things but I'm shy, the pulse mixes with the blood
These patient hunger-feeding wolves how did you know my love for the blood how it makes me shiver
god it felt good just knowing how much I could satisfy
That dry thirst in your mouth.
Remember how easily I slept when I let my ribs collapse on you when I fell bone to bone against you and
you took the first bite from my neck while I slept and you gave me a knife just to cut you and I trembled and
you grinned remember how much you loved that? I am taking it back that white winter so delicate on your
teeth it felt like the pulse of a small animal white so obvious against red I smelled you coming
The cold warmth of a wolf tail curled waiting to make love.
Reviewed by Line Brisebois, June 15, 2012.
John Vaillant is a journalist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Outside, among others.(1) He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. He won Canada's Governor's General award for non-fiction in 2005 with his first book, The Golden Spruce. The author first heard about the documentary Conflict Tiger by Sasha Snow at a film festival where he was also presenting. He found the subject so compelling that he immediately engaged in research, reading "a lot about how tigers hunt fight and kill"(2), and traveled to Russia's far-eastern region as soon as he got the required authorizations in order to write his most recent book, The Tiger.
In addition to observing tigers in man-made habitats, Vaillant traveled to Russia to research his subject. He interviewed the individuals who were involved in the story, visited the crime scenes and viewed video footage that was taken during the investigation, putting his journalistic skills to work on this non-fiction work. Vaillant is interested in the conflicting forces that oppose nature.
By using the examples of an Amur Tiger turned man-eater and the dire existence of Vladimir Markov following Perestroika, Vaillant takes us on the tiger's journey of death and vengeance through the plight of Russian tiger tracker and investigator Yuri Trush. Products that will increase one's potency, elixirs that will enhance men's virility, mystical good-luck charms, bigger and faster cars, waterfront properties, snakeskin handbags, unborn tiger cubs skin robes: how far will rich men's appetite for nature's unique and uncommon treasures (Vaillant, 300) on the one hand, and poor men's destitution on the other, take us? Vaillant reminds us that society's failure to provide viable habitat for both man and tiger is threatening the survival of both species.
As I check my Twitter feed one last time before bed, I can expect to read the habitual 'thirsty' Tweets by friends and strangers. Much of these Tweets leave nothing to the imagination. Here I am thinking, curling in the fetal position, and longing for love in a silent, ardent struggle while listening to Fiona Apple. People seem far more liberated when it comes to expressing their wants, especially their sexual desires, at least that's the new mode, when on social networking websites. On this one particular night, I was surprised by the lack of sexual Tweets I read, so surprised in fact, that I needed to Tweet about it myself: ''No one has posted any sexy tweets in the past few minutes. I take it you're all masturbating'' (Bastien).
While this Tweet didn't particularly get a nod, it made me wonder: when did it become okay for me to hop into someone else's bed without having to leave my own? When did I decide I wanted to know everyone's favorite sexual position? Or know the particular reason why a friend of mine's neck and jaw were sore that particular evening? When exactly did I consent to this? Not that this particularly disturbs me; it's kind of an entertaining feeling, or for a lack of a better word, involved; but the dichotomy at work behind this statement and the individual making it does disturb me. Why is it that someone could appear so bold behind block letters, and in real life awkwardly avoid making eye contact with you over mundane, every day sexual topics? If you have the balls to boast about your sexual prowess for all of the world wide web to read, why would making these very statements in the intimacy of an immediate body leave you blushing, embarrassed and looking away? All I'm saying is, if you're quick to type, stop being so prudish when I ask you to talk dirty to me.
Rows of spines, squeezed together; both thick and skinny; flaunt their glossy titles: That Perfect Someone, A Little Night Magic, Catch of a Lifetime, When Dreams Come True ... I may be a Romance novel virgin but I certainly know these sound too sentimental for my taste. I continue to lurk the Romance section of Chapters, located on the third floor at the far back corner of the store.
In Your Wildest Dream - alright, go on...
Enslave - Oh, almost there...
Please, Sir - Don't stop...
In Deep - Yes! This erotic novel by Chloe Harris sounds like a delectable little read - and here's hoping "little" doesn't become one of the book's recurring words. I open the book at random: "... tickling her tight rosebud..." - twenty-eight pages in and we're already in.