by Beth Lewis
The ‘Big Stupid’ occurred in the 1980’s. Whilst Thatcher and Reagan reined, the Cold War erupted and many of the bombs meant for USA landed in Canada, specifically, British Columbia; creating the backdrop for Lewis’ novel; Wolf Road.
The story is set two generations later. Whilst much of the south (USA) is rebuilt, for the people of ‘Bee Cee’, life is wild and hard and very much reliving the cowboy era.
Chapter One begins with our main protagonist, Elka, watching from a tree as she carefully tracks and baits the hunter, Krueger. This scene sets the tone of the novel before revisiting Elka’s life leading to that point; her introduction of Trapper, the realisation that Trapper is a wanted murder by the name of Krueger, and that just as he hunts deer and women, now he hunts her.
Although drawing the reader straight into the narrative, it removes a lot of the suspense and thrill of the book. We know the outcome, if not the details, which gives a sense of security regarding the wellbeing of Elka. Whilst others may become crippled with fear or die, we know that Elka, beyond all else, is strong and will be to the bitter end; how else will she be able to beat her beloved Trapper?
Written in first person, the novel reads well. Pace is maintained throughout, and although the vernacular of Elka may be technically incorrect for the location, it still provides an obvious class difference, emphasising the wilderness and illiteracy of Elka compared to her fellows. It might both some, but it didn’t bother me.
What did bother me was the focus of industry around gold mining; would there still be gold? Most of what there was, was mined way before the 80s … surely?