Barkskins

Barkskins

A Novel

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
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"Barkskins opens in New France in the late 18th century as Rene Sel, an illiterate woodsman, makes his way from Northern France to the homeland to seek a living. Bound to a "seigneur" for three years in exchange for land, he suffers extraordinary hardship and violence, always in awe of the forest he is charged with clearing. In the course of this epic novel, Proulx tells the stories of Rene's children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, as well as the descendants of his friends and foes, as they travel back to Europe, to China, to New England, always in quest of a livelihood or fleeing stunningly brutal conditions--war, pestilence, Indian attacks, the revenge of rivals. Proulx's inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid--in their greed, lust, vengefulness, or their simple compassion and hope--that we follow them with fierce attention. This is Proulx's most ambitious novel ever, and her master work."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2016
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780743288781
Branch Call Number: PROULX
Characteristics: xii, 717 pages : genealogical tables ; 25 cm

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k
kathylou
Nov 13, 2017

I started reading this on my Kindle. I had no idea that it was a 700 page book. When the loan expired, I checked out the book. Trying to get through this book all at once would be horrible. I found that it is divided into 10 sections. Most are good stand alone stories. Read them more or less in order, skip what you are not enjoying. Reading books should not be a miserable experience.

l
lulu415
Sep 06, 2017

I was swept up in this book... until about page 250. That's when I began to weary of characters flitting across the pages of this book like so many birds, of the heavy-handed approach to the important messages, and to the lack of human touch or empathy towards characters and their conditions. I admire Annie Proulx immensely and am glad her tour-de-fource is so enthusiastically embraced. I wonder how much enthusiasm this book would inspire if she was not so aged. For me, too much (about 400 pages worth) and too little (character development and continuity).

nrobocop_nwpl Apr 15, 2017

Overall I felt more impressed by this book than ~swept up~ by it. It was a long read and it was hard to get particularly attached to any of the characters. However, it is one of those books that lingers. By providing such a sweeping perspective its emotional gut-punch isn't in the individual lives of the characters, it is in the life of the forest and it does an amazing job of unpacking the problems of ideology in sustaining a living world. Its treatment of First Nations, particularly the Mi'kmaq peoples, is profoundly affecting. It is one of those rare books that affects your thinking (even if you're already sympathetic to its cause) not because it moralizes, but because it traces the changes in the land and the evolution of attitudes and ideologies over what very quickly starts to feel like a remarkably short period of time.

b
brangwinn
Feb 26, 2017

At times, I felt I was plodding through this very thorough story of a First Nations family and a French family who came to North America. Through marriage their lives intertwined Through the story Proulx’s love for nature and Canada shine through. The novel deserves the accolades it has received, if for no other reason the detail about the lumber industry and the treatment of native peoples. Beginning in the 1600’s the multigenerational story ends in 2013. I love a big thick novel, and although this book held my interest, I didn’t find it as compelling as Michener’s Hawaii, perhaps because Proux is so adept at putting so much detail into a story.

adam_cooper Feb 19, 2017

Here we go, another librarian review for a 700+ page door stop. But seriously this book is engrossing. Spanning several decades and exploring multiple genealogies this page-turning behemoth will keep you gripped (or your money back). The long format provides a telescopic view of the history of the logging industry in North America as well as the gradual shift from frontier mythologizing to ecological thinking. This is the great achievement of this book and you have to work to get the pay off. And if you are still put off by the sheer size it is divided into smaller books which can be read alone and then put down whilst you read your next bodice-ripping potboiler.

p
peacebenow
Feb 19, 2017

An excellent book about the immigrants populating North America, effect on Native Americans and trees! The history of trees. We only think of ourselves and have been destroying the planet more and faster than we (I) know. Very visual writing. Can almost feel the pain of trees and the planet. Is there hope......

m
mdextras
Jan 30, 2017

It is certainly a book with a lot of detail and it follows two families through several generations. If you enjoy family sagas and historical novels, you might like this one. However, I found it tiresome to read. It may be because I had a limited time to read it, I had to finish by January 16th for Bookclub, but I cannot say that the book kept my attention. I found myself looking for reasons to put it aside.

Ms. Proulx uses the book to preach about the destruction of forests not only in North America but also in New Zealand and some in South America. Ultimately, the caucasian framily, the Duke's destroy themselves as they did the forests. The logging company that amassed huge fortunes disappears and the last generations of the Duke family destroy each other.

The Sel family who marry and mix with indians, mainly the mi'kmaq live on, not wealthy, they struggle but they live on. They work as loggers to live and provide for family, often die horrible deaths but often return to their ancestral homes. They complain of the destruction of forests.

I struggled to finish this book and I cannot say I enjoyed it, but it is certainly thought provoking. I am looking forward to the Bookclub discussion.

b
bcjones14
Jan 26, 2017

This novel is a literary tour de force. The time and energy Proulx put into researching the logging/forestry industry and the time periods, 1600s to present, is impressive. The characters are well-developed and endearing. I was left with a renewed sense of urgency for protecting and respecting our woods and natural resources. Definitely timely as we protest DAPL and Keystone pipelines.

o
Oleq
Dec 26, 2016

Covers all facets of the logging industry, from long, cold winters in bush camps to wheeling and dealing at the highest levels of finance. Penetrating insights on colonial and racist attitudes towards North American's indigenous peoples, and a great reminder that many of us - especially in Canada - are descended from a mixture of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ancestors. So many ways to die in the woods! Not a casual read, can be hard to keep track of all the characters, but definitely rewarding.

p
posie12
Dec 20, 2016

lively characters, great research very readable.

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