Thursday, November 11, 2010
THE BONE CAGE by Angie Abdou (2007) NeWest Press
Without my obsessive tweeting about books and following other like-minded bibliophiles in the Twitterverse, I don't think I would have found my way to THE BONE CAGE, dedicated advocate of CanLit that I am--and what a shame that would have been.
Those of you who follow CBC books and are aware of its recent request to find the top 40 Canadian novels/collections of short stories published since 2000 (as suggested by readers across the country) may have become aware of Abdou's book there when it leapt to the controversially curated Top 10 List where it holds its place alongside Ami MacKay's THE BIRTH HOUSE, Lawrence Hill's THE BOOK OF NEGROES and Joseph Boyden's THREE DAY ROAD--perhaps the finest novel ever written about the WWI Front and its consequences.
My copy of THE BONE CAGE came winging to me in the mail last week as payback for a copy of Alexander MacLeod's LIGHT LIFTING. How lucky I am in return.
THE BONE CAGE is a dual narrative told in confident third-person about two elite athletes training in Calgary with the hope of making it to the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney: The Show. Sadie is a swimmer with an English Literature degree and Digger is an 85-kilo wrestler and both stand on the verge of realizing every competitive athlete's dream. Because Sadie is 26 and Digger is 30, both are also already beginning to contemplate what will become of them when their bodies eventually betray them, as all bodies do.
Abdou's description is visceral and precise and I found myself wishing I could work up a sweat at the gym as efficiently as Digger and find the vision to work through pain like Sadie does for hours every day in the pool. In addition to her focused narrative drive, I found myself admiring Abdou's original figurative language: "His words come from far away, and they barely reach her. She feels them slide off her body and land in a puddle at her feet." Wow. Right?
I hope that the current exposure on the road to Canada Reads 2011 finds Angie Abdou's THE BONE CAGE the wider and appreciative audience that it so deserves.