The Memory of Water (Hardback)Allen Smutylo (author)
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Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Number of pages: 272
Weight: 240 g
Dimensions: 228 x 1 x 25 mm
In The Memory of Water we accompany Canadian traveller, writer, and artist Allen Smutylo on some of his journeys. The ten stories span great geographical distances as well as a large period of time, from Tobermory in 1970 to Varanasi in 2010. As Smutylo writes in his introduction, these stories share the presence of water, be it oceans, rivers, snow, or icebergs. The stories are humourous and political, personal and historical. Most are thought-provoking and highly engaging. In addition, several of these accounts show signs of Smutylo's perspectives as an artist with references to viewpoints, colours, light, shadow and movement. In my mind, it is exactly this artistic view that makes this publication interesting to read. In particular, I was captured by Smutylo's thoughts on the representation of people and places. These thoughts deal with practical challenges (How to convey the movement of water? How to portray the reticent knifemaker?), as well as issues of a philosophical character, such as when he reflects upon how artists embellish in order to see things in new ways or when he writes about the role of the kayak in his art. Throughout, these ponderings are accompanied and supplemented by Smutylo's diverse and truly beautiful artwork. -- Janicke S. Kaasa -- Canadian Literature
Smutylo is an aesthete and environmentalist, a wilderness painter whose representations of extreme landscapes through an artistic, rather than photographic, lens embrace cultural perspectives-from the stark Arctic ocean that shaped successive Indigenous Polar cultures, to the crowded banks of the Ganges river where Hindu culture thrives at the intersection of tradition and adaptive innovation. Places of Smutylo's original artwork are found throughout The Memory of Water , providing an extra 1000 words of textual descriptions each time.... Vivid contemporary adventure is interleaved with stories of successive circumpolar cultural groups-the Independence, Thule, Dorset, and Inuit peoples-and those physical elements of their cultures that remain on the land. In a poignant example, the brutal strength of real polar bears (who munch through metal ration barrels and circle tents at night) is contrasted with the stark spiritual power of tiny ivory polar bear carvings left as talismans on the land for over 3000 years. To stumble on either-megafauna or microcarving-is a treasure of experience, and Smutylo's meditations on the cultural imperatives of water traverse cultural contexts.... In each essay in The Memory of Water we are reminded of the uncertainties that individual human lives, and collectively determined human cultures, face in terms of survival on our water-filled planet. Beyond their informative value, both The Memory of Water and Travelling the 38th Parallel are very much tributes to the joys of travel and the richness of learning first-hand from place. If, like me, you have enjoyed learning by shorter journeys and have wished to travel more, then reading these books will be something like pressing your nose against the glass of an all-you-can-eat buffet-you'll finish with a longing to get your feet wet, and push away from shore. -- Sandy M. Bonny, University of Saskatchewan -- The Goose
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