CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2006
The funeral scene is used to illustrate the differences between how Jacob Piersol views the "heathen" Tink and how the members of their small community view this gentle, helpful individual. We also see the contrast in the reaction between when Tink escorts a young woman to the local fair, and the response of her father, when compared to the father's actions at the funeral.
As well as a story of survival on a strange world, and a conflict with religion, the author illustrates the problems of "being different" from those considered "normal." Tink's unusual appearance is explained away by the locals as being "foreign." One example of the author's take on prejudice involves a chapter where Tink tries to fit in with a group of boys playing baseball. It demonstrates bullying and racial prejudice alive and well in the 1800's.
The characters in the story are not all one-dimensional. While we have the bullies and the prejudiced, we also have those we would consider as good people who take Tink at face value and treat him as they would another human being.
At 238 pages, the author explores several issues, not just those of faith and love, but other serious, thought-provoking matters, such as euthanasia and the after-life. At the back of the book is a Book Club Guide which lists a series of questions to generate some discussion and reflection regarding the contents of the book. There is adventure but also a lot of thought-provoking commentary.
A literate tale and not for the reader looking for giant space battles and ray-gun wielding monsters, this is a story of an outsider's trying to survive on an alien planet. The difference between this and most tales of the genre is that the alien planet is our planet Earth. The setting, too, in the mid 1800's provides for a change of pace from other survival stories.
A Small and Remarkable Life would be enjoyed by someone looking for thoughtful discussion of issues that are still with us today, or someone who is looking for a story that is just a little bit different from the normal in this genre. You don't have to be a hardened science fiction fan to enjoy this pleasant little tale.
Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups and writer's workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.