Wednesday, 26 September 2007
A wet day in Halifax, NS
Canadian dream – revisited
My one day in Halifax was wet. The kind of wet that comes at you in a horizontal straight line and chases you everywhere you go.
I have just begun to play the guitar and someone suggested to me that I could buy a second hand guitar for $40, trail it around the country with me and give it away before coming home. The first stop in town was the Halifax Folklore Centre to see if such a buy existed. I spent about two minutes it this unique store, just enough time to gaze at immaculate instruments lining the walls while listening to a couple of customers, or staff members, belting out ‘Dueling Banjos’. I scuttled back out into the rain with my humble head hanging low.
It is just as well Halifax has some fine restaurants to hide in. Dinner that evening was a mouth watering seafood plate served up in the very popular McKelvie’s. But before that yummy nachos were gobbled up for lunch in The Argyll in Argyll Street.
It was while I was waiting in The Argyll for the rain to take a break that I was grabbed by a tune from the radio. A catchy little number with hilarious lyric; The Pick Up Truck by Shane Yellowbird. It was made even better by the accompaniment issuing forth from the cheery wee waitress who served me. I was amazed when, that evening, I watched Shane on TV lift an award at the Canadian Country Music Awards. Well done Shane. I now have another song to add my growing repertoire of tunes I can’t play.
I only wanted to take one book on holiday so I had to be a big one.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck is the semi autobiographical story of two families in the Salinas Valley in California. It tracks the life of the Trasks who have lots of money, good land and no desire to make use of the land and the Hamiltons, how have poor land and work hard to scrape a living from it. The story like Steinbeck’s other great novel The Grapes of Wrath has a biblical connection. In East of Eden Cane and Abel is used to throw up the strong themes of sibling rivalry and the quest for parental approval. Unlike Grapes of Wrath the characters in this book are given the space to show what they can do. The best character is the Chinese servant who rears the Trask boys when their mother deserts them to run a whore house and their father sinks into depression.
The style is that of a narrator telling the story from a chummy omniscient point of view. This works very well. Steinbeck uses a wonderful wholesome language, which thrills in its simplicity and effectiveness.
I loved this book but left it feeling that it didn’t quite impact me with the punch Grapes of Wrath swung. They are both worth reading