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Moon of the Crusted Snow: A Novel Paperback – 2 October 2018
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"This slow-burning thriller is also a powerful story of survival and will leave readers breathless." -- Publishers Weekly
Rice seamlessly injects Anishinaabe language into the dialogue and creates a beautiful rendering of the natural world . . . This title will appeal to fans of literary science fiction akin to Cormac McCarthy as well as to readers looking for a fresh voice in indigenous fiction." -- Booklist
"The creeping tension and vividly drawn landscapes make Waubgeshig Rice's characters' choices all the more real." -- Toronto Star
"Moon of the Crusted Snow sets itself apart -- an apocalypse novel in reverse." -- Globe and Mail
"Rice complicates and demands a rethinking of the apocalyptic category itself, which is the book's greatest revelation and strength . . . Rice's writing is measured and he has a lovely ear for the cadence of conversation -- humour, rage, and introspection all coming through the dialogue . . . Rice's story teaches, but it's not didactic; it's original, and somehow takes the frenetic pace of a crisis, slows it down, and shows us its parts." -- Canadian Notes & Queries
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Some like Evan manage to hunt to feed their families and to assure other community members are fed and safe. The first sign of trouble is when TV and cell phone reception fails. Gradually they learn computers and land lines are down, and then electricity goes out. Evan looks at his now useless Cell phone and TV which has been out for two days. He is annoyed as they were purchased at some expense on a trip south. He asks a friend if they think the weather has caused the outage. “Doubt it. Probably just bad receivers. We can never have nice things on the Rez”.
There is an emergency power generator which will not last the winter. With a severe winter with frequent blizzards and deep snow they cannot expect supplies to reach them on scheduled truck runs from the south. The hunters obtain extra food and start to tap into emergency food reserves to distribute to the community.
Two young men return to the community from a city further south. They had left the reservation to study and have made the trip on stolen snowmobiles. They describe how they fled due to chaos, violence and panic in the city. People now realize that their loss of power and communication is not a normal glitch to which they have become accustomed. Something has gone terribly wrong in the outside world.
Soon a fearsome white man follows the boy’s’ snowmobile tracks. He considers himself an expert survivalist and his own methods regardless of the community morals and traditions. Soon several more white people arrive, describing dreadful conditions even further south. They are desperate and hungry.
People are describing this as the Apocalypse. Auntie Aileen is the oldest and wisest person in the community and remembers the old ways before modern inventions and luxuries arrived. To paraphrase, she tells the group that the world hasn’t ended. It ended when the white men came and took our original land from us. They cut down the forests, destroyed fishing and forced us here. Our world ended again when they followed us to take our children to residential schools, forcing them to forget our language and culture. The Apocalypse has happened to us over and over. We have survived and will in the future, even if the power never comes back on and we never see a white man again.
This is a sad story. There have been deaths from illness, disease and suicide. The new arrivals, after they have been allowed to join the community, disrupt the well-organized leadership. They have shocking plans which brings about violence. The story ends with an uncertain future, but with a glimmer of hope.