Kirkus Reviews QR Code
BLUE NORTH by Kenneth White



Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Braziller

Though billed as a ""first novel,"" this slight volume is actually a musing, freeform travel book--following White's offhand journey through Quebec into Labrador. ""I've been making for Labrador since I could walk. Took to the Labrador road straight from the cradle."" So says Scottish-born, France-dwelling White, who starts out in Montreal, gathers assorted books about Labrador, and rides buses and trains--listing the names of passing towns, the passing scenery too (some of it curious). He offers excerpts from the books he's reading, along with his oh-wow-ish reactions. (""With me the concepts were Pelagian thought, archipelagic activity, and white world. And here was this guy, starting out from entirely different bases and premises, arriving in the self-same area. Was a new wind blowing over the world?"") White visits with some Indians along the way, listens to stories and songs, notes the tacky modern trimmings here and there, but ""the Mingan people are primitive, with primal movement still in their bones and souls. . . . ""And eventually, after a stop in the mining-town of Schefferville, where he engages in some ""geomental meditations,"" he winds up at the Bay of Ungava--which has billiards and Bingo and an Eskimo rock band but also inspires a six-page closing poem called ""Labrador, or the Waking Dream."" Two-thirds mystic/literary meandering in the Sixties/soul-journey mode, one-third intriguing travel-reportage: a thin, pretentious package overall, with only minor, sporadic rewards.