Litstyle Preview (The Franklin Expedition/Atwood’s “The Age of Lead”)

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So I didn’t get a chance to write a litstyle post this week, what with my review being backtracked and such. For those of you who don’t know, litstyle is a weekly post on my blog aka ‘lifestyle for the lit-nerd’, which I post every Wednesday (except today, obviously).

Next week’s post will be two-fold to make up for the absence this week. And this post will act as a little preview.

This will be a mini Canadian history lesson in part, which, I know, probably sounds boring, but stay with me, because it gets good!

“In 1845, explorer Sir John Franklin set sail from England with two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, in search of a Northwest Passage across what is now Canada’s Arctic. The ships and crews vanished, prompting a massive search that continues to this day.”

Parks Canada

So Canadian history is usually fairly straightforward. I remember being in class one day, sitting with a student that had transferred from California, and talking about the upcoming election (at that point, it was the Canadian federal election), and he randomly said, “So how many Canadian presidents have been assassinated?” and the class was like… A. Prime Ministers, B. Not a one. In general, we don’t have too much drama to boast about.

However, The Franklin Expedition was, for a long time, a great Canadian mystery.

It’s been written into a Canadian fable, and one of my favourite short stories just so happens to be about that fable.

Margaret Atwood’s “The Age of Lead” superimposes a woman’s experience of her lifelong friend’s recent death over a television special on the discovery and excavation of a body that’s been encased in ice for over 100 years (hint: it’s from the Franklin Expedition). It’s a story about memory and mortality, and the ways people choose to live life. In true Atwood fashion, the characters are brilliantly developed, and when you’ve finished the story, you’ll miss them, and the narrative will stick with you.

“Increasingly the sidewalk that runs past her house is cluttered with plastic drinking cups, crumpled soft-drink cans, used take-out plates. She picks them up, clears them away, but they appear again overnight, like a trail left by an army on the march or by the fleeing residents of a city under bombardment, discarding the objects that were once thought essential but are now too heavy to carry.”

You can read the entire story here or in Atwood’s short story collection, Wilderness Tips.

Next week, I’ll be going with a friend to a museum exhibition on The Franklin Expedition, and from that I’ll be writing a combination review/rant about the exhibition and Atwood’s “The Age of Lead”.

Photos, thoughts, and a review will be posted as next Wednesday’s litstyle! Until then, happy Wednesday!

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I'm Emma Kath. Welcome to my blog! This is where I post my original book reviews, litstyle (lifestyle for the lit-nerd), and other bookish things. A little about me: I'm Canadian, and currently a student majoring in English lit and cultural studies. I'm an introvert (INFJ, if you believe in that sort of thing), sarcastic to the bone, I love art and history, and hope to one day travel around a bit. Until then, I'll be reading, writing, and trying to spread a little kindness around the internet. If you have any questions or inquiries, feel free to contact me!

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