Coyote and the Enemy Aliens – Thomas King's “A Short History of Indians in Canada”
I have just discovered an AMAZING short story.
My friend Ellen Crowe-Swords will LOVE it to death…. or laugh so hard, she will burst her stitches.
Last night, I picked up a copy of Thomas King's new book. “A Short
History of Indians in Canada.” Only it isn't really new, because it
came out last year. In 2005. But it's new to me.
Thomas King is the author of “Green Grass Running Water”
short-listed for the GG award, and included on Literary Review of
Canada's “100 Most Important Canadian Books Ever Written.”
check this out this review from Books in Canada
“Coyote and the Enemy Aliens” is, as its title suggests, a Coyote
story. We've seen these before. Coyote is a sort of chameleon for King
(as for others)-a figure, like Crow, who is not to be trusted.
“Sometimes I tell Coyote stories,” says King's narrator in this one.
“Boy, you got to be careful with those Coyote stories. When I tell
those Coyote stories, you got to stay awake. You got to keep those toes
under that chair. I can tell you that.”
Green Grass, Running Water starts off with a Coyote, too. (Actually, it
starts with a one-word sentence-“So”-my favourite beginning to a
Canadian novel). In Green Grass, a primordial soup is occupied by
Coyote-the trickster character verily dreams the world into being:
“That Coyote is dreaming and pretty soon, one of those dreams gets
loose and runs around. Makes a lot of noise.” And on from there, with
Coyote acting the part of the mischievous god-or the befuddled wizard.
In William Bright's A Coyote Reader (1993), the coyote is described as
being part of a super-powered pre-human race, “capable of being brave
or cowardly, conservative or innovative, wise or stupid.”
“Coyote and the Enemy Aliens”, unlike Green Grass, shuttles Coyote to
the forefront of the action. This is no sideline overseer or court
jester. This Coyote works for the white man and is in charge of those
Japanese internment camps; he's in charge of stealing property, and
fishing boats, and of separating women and children from men. The
Japanese are the “Enemy Aliens”. “Enemy Aliens,” says Coyote, “don't
mind that smell . . . They're not like you and me.”
And here's a short recommendation from Queens University Newsletter
Books: Thomas King, A Short History of Indians in
Canada. His wit is so sharp it slices you to the bone. Here's an
excerpt from the short story, “Coyote and the Enemy Aliens,” pages
“…That's one good story, I tell
Coyote. Enemy Aliens in a Livestock Building.
No, no says Coyote. This story is not a good Coyote story. This
story is a good Canadian story.
Canadian story. Coyote story. Sometimes it's hard to tell the
difference. All those words begin with C.
Callous, carnage, catastrophe, chicanery.
Boy, I got to take a breath. There, that's better.
Cold-blooded, complicit, concoct, condemn.
No, we're not done yet.
Condescend, confabulate, confiscate, conflate, connive.
No, not yet.
Conspire, convolute, crazy, crooked, cruel, crush.
Holy, I almost forgot cupidity.
No, no, says Coyote. Those words are the wrong words. The word
you're looking for is legal….”