Title: Mapping the Interior
Author: Stephen Graham Jones
Genre: Native American, literature, themes of death & loss
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
You know when you read a book and you know that at least 50% of the symbolism, comparisons, philosophy and psychology went over your head? That's what Mapping the Interior felt like to me. I know there is obviously a lot of importance and density to this novella but ask me to explain it or pull out snippets and I struggle knowing I missed a lot of somethings I can't articulate.
"There are rules, I know. Not knowing them doesn't mean they don't apply to you."
This is a story of a Native American boy whose mourning a lost father, coping with leaving the reserve, trying to protect his damaged little brother and be the man of the house for his mom. It's a sad story and one I have heard variations of from other Natives in Canada many times. Having attended a junior high school where we had reserve kids it was always obvious that us "city kids" (as they called us) had it pretty darn good. Even those who didn't have it so good we're still better off in comparison. So very sad and yet so true.
"...like the same stupid person is trying life after life until he gets it right at last."
Mapping the Interior is about the cycle of shame, loss and how you are destined to be your fathers son whether you want to be or not.
And while, again, I'm not sure I understood all the nuances of the book I'm glad I read it. If only for a reminder, in the year that Canada celebrates 150 years as a nation, that we built this nation on top of others existing culture and life. Be it right or wrong at the time it happened, and given we can't change that, we should at least remember and reach a hand out to help break the cycle and provide opportunities for those children and adults who are stuck in a life of poverty and helplessness.
It's difficult to give literature like this a rating. It almost feels inappropriate to rate it. Like I can't put a value on something I can't entirely understand. So I will give four stars because it's an important story told in this novella, but the deep metaphorical overlay of the story leaves me feeling inadequate and therefore is not going to be good for everyone; nor does it make its point in an easily accessible way.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.