Posts tagged ‘book review’

SUN INFINITY MOON Book Review

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Mark Seabrook is multifaceted with a tremendously creative spirit and a flair for storytelling, using the musical, visual and literary arts to carry forward his unique “voice”.  

SUN INFINITY MOON is the latest literary offering from Mark and is a collection of anecdotal accounts – years in the making – as told through an Anishnabe character named Sun, whom, along with all the others who make an appearance in this book is reportedly fictitious, existing, as Mark states in the foreword “wholly within the author’s imagination”…  ”Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locals [sic] is entirely coincidental.”

For readers who may be familiar with Mark Seabrook’s life and works, the coincidental resemblances are pronounced and one finds it impossible to refrain from attempting to deduce what is real and what is imagined.  Perhaps that is precisely the way Mark intends it to be?

We begin with:  We found a pile of human bones on the floor of the tree house.  A pretty great opening line for book of stories!  There was no order to the way they were piled, it was all abstract expressionism, Jackson Pollock style […] It was that fuckin’ skull, upright, jaw missing, top teeth gnarling on the coarse floor boards, frontal and parietal blaring like a pair of brand new stripper shoes mailed in from L.A., that caught my attention.  At some point in time that was someone’s think tank.  Someone’s whole of everything was up there, everything they could imagine and cherish, childhood memories, first love, the nightmares, were stowed and secure in that brain case, which was now bone dry, on a floor.  Empty.  The maggots had cleaned house and run off.”  Mark’s phrasing and descriptors all throughout the book are marvellously evocative whether they are conveying Anishnabe angst or reflecting on non-native practices.

And there is A LOT of Anishnabe angst.  And anger.  And revengeful ravings.  Amidst the playful dark humour and erotic tales there is an unmistakable undercurrent of humans behaving badly.  Such non-edifying things I have trained myself to avoid – but as Mark is a friend and I was proud he had followed through on his goal of publishing this book, I thought it was important to give it a read and gain some understanding.  

Mark had a compelling desire to convey a “sick and disgusting story” (his words, private correspondence) without an editor’s assistance, for fear that any editing would perhaps make the stories less “his” and risk becoming adulterated by the influence of non-native manipulation.  Such close protectionism causes the book to suffer, however, and I understand a second printing is in the works, with some essential grammatical improvements that should not conflict with the telling of these tales.

Nevertheless, for all it’s disjointed recapitulations and errors, SUN INFINITY MOON is actually rich with layers of meaning, above and beyond the unpleasant disrespect the characters (both native and non-native) show for each other, for non-human creatures and for the environment.  The deepest layer Mark Seabrook crafts for readers is that a great wrong has been done to Anishnabe youth with lingering, festering wounds that continue to hinder mental wellness and self-actualization.  That dark layer of meaning is the type of wrong that occurs in all cultures, worldwide, and to this reviewer signals a psychological malfunction present within the human species itself.  It is a darkness that when illuminated by awareness, inspiration and inner discipline can be channeled into human constructs that ennoble, enrich and transform, allowing each of us to better discover our inherent talent and live up to our full potential.

If the intention of this book was to amuse and entertain while unveiling a host of deleterious behaviours and events, intermingling sweet memories with frightful ones, it has achieved that end.  It may have been cathartic for Mark Seabrook to write such a series of tales…future works will reflect that or not.  Within Mark’s character “Moon”, we see it is possible to develop awareness…perhaps in a future literary exploration, Mark can expand upon that and use his creative storytelling techniques to help humans transcend the species-wide affliction of destructive behaviours.  That would be a book I would be glad to recommend!

L.  Manitoulin Island

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Page 15, from “May 11, 1996”, SUN.  Sun Infinity Moon, by Mark Seabrook.

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Back cover:  Sun Infinity Moon, by Anishnabe artist and author: Mark Seabrook.

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Missing In Action, painted face masks, acrylic on canvas, 30×30 inches, by anishnabe artist Mark Seabrook.  Private collection.

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Missing In Action, on display in Ottawa, 2014.

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Killed In Action, painted face mask and acrylic on canvas, 30×30 inches, by anishnabe artist Mark Seabrook.  Private collection.  (On display in Ottawa, 2014)

Sun Infinity Moon Book Review

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“I finished the book yesterday, I couldn’t put it down! The sex scenes were hot, humorous and I loved Mark’s rawness, his truth, the details, the characters, journeys, their thoughts: so real!

I could hear his voice and the way he talks, and jokes, telling the story!

The history and raw truth are so touching, I wanted to hear more. I felt a deeper compassion hearing his experiences. The “nish” accent was hilarious but true to our men. I laughed a lot and ohh that ending made me cry!

His detail is impeccable. I wanted more about their journeys. So many more avenues: more books, a play, a movie!

His readers will want more.

So glad I went to the book launch and got my copy. I can think of so many that would enjoy this book and could relate: namely native males I know, with similar tough journeys.”

M.D., Manitoulin Island F/N.

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Back cover of the artist proof:  filled with typos and layout errors!  Ah well.  The reprint will be here soon and hopefully bug free…

I have a couple of more book reviews coming in soon!  But I’ll tell you this:  writing a story like this and having folks give it the once over, the response is SUPER telling!  i.e.:  one gal was all friendly and happy and poops and giggles before, after…  she wouldn’t even look at me!  I mean she would cross over to the other side of the street when she saw me coming along!  WOW!

I get that this IS a tough sell.  We’re a long way from the Disneyland and Hollywood Indian stereotypes.  But I’m not a Joseph Boyden or an Archie Grey Owl!  Ha ha.

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twinravens on November 5th, acrylic on canvas board, 8×10 inches.  One of the 25 or so pieces we have ready for this weekend’s pop up art show in Perth, Ontario!  Details are on the Facebook page.

Book Review by Steve McPhail

SUN INFINITY MOON
a novel by
Mark Seabrook

“Mark Seabrook” is a renaissance artist from the “Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation”, also known as “Many Rivers Joining-Human Beings”. Sagamok’s culture and language is “Anishinabek” / “Anishinaabemowin” and is made up of the Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatomi bands. (The Sagamok reserve is approximately 120 kilometres west of Sudbury, Ontario.) I first became aware of Mark’s brilliant “Woodland” style of painting at the “Providence Bay Harbour Centre” on Manitoulin Island, where his work illuminates the walls of the “Huron Island Time” ice cream parlour.

“Contemporary Canadian native artists have produced three major schools – ‘Westcoast art’, ‘Inuit art’ and ‘Woodland art’. All three have been based on ancient traditions that, despite the persistent and pervasive forces of acculturation, have endured to the present day. The woodland style developed as a direct result of the imagery ‘Norval Morrisseau’ brought forth into the world in the early 1960’s. Despite censure from elders in his community, he chose to make public the spiritual concepts inherent in the ‘Midiwewin religious society’. Common to contemporary and prehistoric traditions is the prevalence of images of ‘transformation’: representations of a man or an animal being two life forms at the same time.” – (http://www.native-art-in-canada.com/woodlandart.html)

For the record, “Midiwewin” is a religious society made up of spiritual advisors and healers, known as the “Mide”. The Mide serve as spiritual leaders for the general populace. They perform religious ceremonies, study and practise sacred healing methods and strive to maintain a respectful relationship between humanity and Mother Earth.”
– (https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/midewiwin)

Though Mark Seabrook is no stranger to expressing himself in the written word, as a musician, poet and playwright, only recently has he released his first novel, “Sun Infinity Moon”. Much like his brilliant work in the visual arts, Mark reveals the story of a narrator’s “recapitulation” of his memories of childhood friends on Manitoulin Island, in a non-linear manner. (“Recapitulation is a core shamanic technique used to heal emotional charges. On a deeper level, it is used to reclaim energy and return it to one’s self.” – (http://toltecnagual.com/toltec-tools/the-recapitulation)

Whether these various characters are different people, or aspects of the narrating character’s fragmented personality, is up to interpretation. On the book cover is the warning: “contains course language, violence and sexuality”. Whether the reader identifies as Indigenous or not, take no offence at the harsh and humorous collage of scenarios depicted. As one follows the narrator’s struggle through his personal transformation to regain his “Indigenous soul”, consider the act of visualizing this story a personal shamanic journey.

Derek Stephen McPhail

Providence Bay