Monday, December 8, 2008

Tim Bowling's "Low Water Slack" and "The Memory Orchard"

I wanted to enjoy the Bowling titles quoted in the header. The subject matter, especially of the former -- salmon fishing at the Fraser's evacuation -- is of interest to me. I've lived my entire life (save a year) in the area; my father worked on a seine fishing boat many summers, and I have vivid memories of being on board as a tyke, with a wealth of smells, sights, and tastes; and, in a larger and more general sense, the issues (overfishing, local culture, lineage, natural of-the-moment spirituality, amongst others) are important and timeless.

But the shaping is bloated, the tone often precious (though, to Bowling's credit, at least unintentionally so, to my mind), the insights leaden and obvious, and the language straining to abstractions, this despite the physical immediacy and vibrancy of its origins.

Bowling loves the narrative vein, so it's not surprising that he's written novels, as well.

There are some affecting historical interludes (can't quote poem titles or lines as I don't have the books at the ready) that showcase Bowling's compassion and generational understanding, and he manages some tighter lyrical interplay here.

It's too bad. Concrete compression would add a world of enjoyment and memorability to his efforts.

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