Wednesday, March 26, 2008

All Canada, All Day, With Kenneth Oppel




The Internet is celebrating literary Canada today. While I've written in the past about my obsession with Margaret Atwood, touched on my life-changing experience with Robertson Davies, and described Mordecai Richler (probably my favorite Canadian author) as a friend of my youth, I'm going to give today's post to Toronto resident Kenneth Oppel.

This is rather brassy of me, given that I've only read two of his books, Airborn and Skywalker. But they were very good.

Plus, I don't see Oppel being referred to often as a "Canadian writer." Sure bios will say he's won this Canadian award or other, but I don't think he's identified as a Canadian writer the way some of the Canadian writers I've known since college are Canadian writers. Many of those writers' books are set in Canada, and their experiences as Canadians inform their writing. Richler, for instance, is associated with Montreal, and in his later years he wrote about the Quebecois movement. Atwood's Amazing Grace was inspired by a Canadian murder in the nineteenth century.

Based on what I've read about Oppel, I'm guessing that he's more influenced by the time he lives in than the place. He describes himself as being influenced by Star Wars and videogames, which certainly are not limited to any one country, and Roald Dahl, who was from Wales. Airborn and Skybreaker are two well-done thrillers set in an alternative early twentieth century. Perhaps they are close to steampunk, a fantasy subgenre that, like Star Wars, videogames, and Roald Dahl, has an international following.

Now that we have so much "world culture"--all kinds of international media--we may see more and more artists who are products of their time rather than of their place.

2 comments:

TadMack said...

Well, when you read Darkwing you'll definitely get a whole different feel -- not at all influenced by the time in which he lives, but a really successful book nonetheless.

I, too, really love Margaret Atwood. I discovered her in college and felt so smart reading her!

gail said...

When I was in college, we only read her poetry. I don't know if I even knew she wrote fiction then.

I have to admit that I find some of her work a little difficult, which is probably why, I, too, feel smart when I get her.