The men snake-dancing from side to side down the road with arms linked so they would resemble a river when viewed from above. Edie imagines the men on the march, carving figures out of soap, bathing in rivers and streams: "Tomorrow Matt Shaw will bathe up for his big day and the river will smooth the figure's features away, will melt the scent into his hair, until the carving could be anyone, and then will be no one, an oily sheen on the river's current. The novel turns quickly when Belly is injured. The train is forced to stop in a small, snow-buried town and the passengers made to disembark and spend the night.
Belly and Edie share a room with strange characters, Vivian and her daughter, Sadie. The day and night spent there become a nightmare, everything bathed in an eerie setting, the soldiers dancing drunkenly downstairs with prostitutes, the train passengers making snow angels.
Edie thinks, "Saw grown people cavorting in the snow with their clothes wet against their bodies and their laughter stretched weird in the wind, the mirrors on the ceilings reflecting past memories and Belly, feverish and infected, leaking pus, playing horse and airplane with a vengeance. McNeney layers Slim's stories upon Edie's forward-moving plot with great care. Each new story is introduced by a title, so that the novel reads as chunks of time.
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Edie's past, her parents' lives, her romance with a prisoner in a graveyard, the just-finished war, injured soldiers, Slim's adventures, the Regina riot, his drunkenness — everything is carefully drawn and meticulously detailed. This novel is a stunning achievement. It has the feel of a Michael Ondaatje novel, the same breathtaking language and image, a dream-like quality to the scenes. I may accidentally forget the title of this book, but I will never forget the name Arley McNeney.
Michelle Berry is the author of four novels and three story collections. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way.
Time We All Went Marching
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The time we all went marching
The railway would unite the Confederation, open up new lands for colonization, and provide greater access for industry and trade. Fifty years later, in June , hundreds of unemployed men took to those same rails in what was dubbed the On to Ottawa Trek. In response to staggering unemployment rates during the Great Depression, the federal government set up isolated relief camps where single, jobless men toiled in poor working and living conditions. Thousands of these men walked out in April and boarded boxcars heading to Ottawa to raise their demands with the government of Prime Minister R.
The march was crushed in Regina when a police riot against the Trekkers ended with two people confirmed dead and over arrested. The Time We All Went Marching is composed of vignettes that move back and forth through time and from character to character, bringing the struggle of working-class men and women in the s and s to life through luminescent prose. She leaves Slim, her husband of 10 years, passed out in their apartment covered in ice and snow from an open window and a burst pipe.
Throughout the journey, Edie spins stories for her son, and for herself, about the On to Ottawa Trek. She relates how the men lacked placards and so used shoe polish to write slogans — We Want Work and Wages! Final Price Rs.
The ants go marching
Apply Exchange. Other Specifications. On the Back Cover Seduced by stories of Depression-era work camps and a cross-country march that ended in an historic riot, Edie follows her wandering husband Slim from mine to mine, caring for their son, Belly, beneath the makeshift shelter of canvas tents. Front Cover Glimpse Seduced by stories of Depression-era work camps and a cross-country march that ended in an historic riot, Edie follows her wandering husband Slim from mine to mine, caring for their son, Belly, beneath the makeshift shelter of canvas tents.
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