Thunder River: A West Coast Novel Tony Cosier


Published: 2009



Thunder River: A West Coast Novel  by  Tony Cosier

Thunder River: A West Coast Novel by Tony Cosier
2009 | Paperback | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, talking book, mp3, ZIP | | ISBN: | 5.78 Mb

A SENSE OF PLACETony Cosier’s Novel, “Thunder River”Reviewed byEmily-Jane Hills Orfordauthor of “Autumn”Smoke is what his name suggests, a figure that is present one minute and disappears the next like a puff of smoke.

His name, his very existence defines his heritage, his home. Matthew Green is a young Nikaoman whose memories of Smoke haunt him throughout his life. Matthew struggles to create his own identity steeped in both ancestral pride and the understanding that his heritage cannot survive without blending and accepting the other influences that creep into his world. Berkeley and Inga represent the ‘other’ influences, the people who come to tame the land- the people who seek the advice and assistance of the first peoples, Matthew’s people.

The two families come together in the next generation when Matthew’s and Berkeley and Inga’s descendents connect to study, to learn, to reconnect with the land, to rediscover the past, to resurrect the pride that once had been.Tony Cosier has written a ballad. Like the ballads of old, like a tale, sung in verse, to commemorate, and preserve for all time, his story is one worthy of its telling. It is a story of the greatest feats of a specific group of people- it is a story of beauty in both place and people- it is a story of courage that overcomes all manner of evil forces that threaten the existence, the preservation of all that is and was good.

It is a story of perseverance. “Thunder River” is a ballad that speaks of place (British Columbia), of time (the twentieth century) and of identity, the identity of its people: the First Nations, the early white settlers, the undesired immigrants. Cosier interweaves all of these elements to create a complex fabric that chronicles a vibrant life force. It is prose written like poetry, eloquent, succinct and thorough in its description of a place and its people.The history of the province is blatant, tarnished and shameful.

Cosier leaves no stone unturned. In his revelation of one’s sense of identity, Cosier provides the landscape as a metaphor of humanity. He gives lush descriptions of the landscape only to have it mindlessly desecrated by the greed of the miners of the early twentieth century and the greed of the loggers at the end of the century. The land, sacred to the first peoples, is raped- the first peoples suffer no less punishment, as Sonny Green’s sister brutally depicts in her dissertation of a friend’s decline into prostitution.

Others suffer equally harsh treatment: the bullying of Japanese and Chinese miners in the early part of the century, the refusal to allow Sikh refugees to land in Vancouver, and the forced relocation of Japanese Canadians from the northwest coast during the Second World War. “The ugly overriding truth. You did not have to go to war to be in one.” (p. 283) “Thunder River” is both beautiful and ugly, warm and cold, lush and deserted, full of hope and full of despair. It is a tale of contradictions, a ballad of conflicting forces.A retired English teacher and award-winning poet and playwright, Tony Cosier is a master of the written word.

He has published nine volumes of poetry, another novel, a book of stories, and five plays. His lyric descriptions of life, both in his current home of Ottawa, as well as his birthplace of British Columbia, paint a picture of a land and its people that is as diverse from coast to coast as it is within one specific region of the country.“Thunder River” is Cosier’s most recent publication. Published as a novel, it is actually a collection of four novellas that are linked to the underlying theme of British Columbia’s colourful history.

Cosier takes us on a journey to explore the land that attracted the gold rush pioneers, the First Nations people who were there both before and after the gold was discovered, and the white settlers who chose to make this picturesque setting between the mountains their home.

Cosier sets the scene with lush descriptions that in their own lyricism creates a poetic rendition of a place that is, historically, both real and unreal. Thunder River is a place in the story- but it is not a place in British Columbia’s rich history. Rather, Thunder River represents all that was a vibrant part of the province’s growth. It is a metaphor that defines both the pride and the shame that marks its history.Cosier’s novel, “Thunder River”, is a masterpiece very much in the Canadian tradition of defining a sense of place, a sense of identity, a sense of regional pride.

It is the here and the now of a time and place that reflects the past as well as suggesting the future. “Thunder River” is a classic work of art, a canvas scored with many intersecting undercurrent. The author is a literary genius.

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