As I was saying on Monday, this Friday is Canada Day.  As a way to celebrate, I will post a few reviews of Canadian short stories during the week and attempt to finish my tour of Canada through short stories (you can find links to all the stories I have reviewed here).

“Where Is the Voice Coming From?” is my second story from Saskatchewan and was written by Rudy Wiebe and published in 1974.  It is probably one of the most famous Canadian stories and I had meant to read it for a long time.  I have seen it so many times mentioned in essays that I consider it as an essential Canadian read.

I am sorry to report that I did not enjoy reading it.  I started it about three times and read it in two sittings, something I avoid doing with short stories.  I cannot figure why it did not appeal to me.  I enjoy reading about this story, but not reading it.  I found the writing quite alienating.  Maybe is it because of the longish descriptions? or the fact that it seems to oscillate between essay, history and fiction?

In this story, the narrator begins by stating that “[t]he problem is to make the story”.  He then discusses some historical facts about the Indians and how they were hunted down by the police.  He insists on the difficulty to represent history through language.  He also highlights the vagueness of the facts provided by the records, as well as the discrepancy between the photo and the official descriptions provided as a search warrant for “Almighty Voice”.  Therefore, the story highlights the difficulty in recording history, but also emphasises the fact that the history we are offered is provided by the voices of white dominant group, thus not allowing for the Indians to give their own version. 

These are themes I would usually enjoy considering in stories.  However, I could not get into this story and I know that I will have forgotten about it very soon.  I will probably give it another try at another time, and maybe I will then be able to appreciate it.  Have you read it?  What did you think of it?