Monthly Archives: July 2015

A Circle of Salt – A Novel Märchen

Review: A Circle of Salt by E J Weaver

The original title for this piece ended “A Novel Fairy-Tale” but I have an intense dislike for that term, and “folk-tale” doesn’t convey to me the same genre of fiction. Feeling the English language is selling short a much-belovèd form of story, hence my use of the German “Märchen.” (Britannica advises me that is the term by folklorists, so I’m obviously not alone in looking for a suitable term.)

There are certain conventions that I tend to expect in Märchen, such as the Power of Three, Anglo-Western European context, and a third-person narrative. In a Circle of Salt, @Joi_the_Artist uses some of these conventions (Power of Three,) but uses a Russian-analogue setting, and borrows from Russian mythos (eg: Baba Yaga.) Most surprising to me is the use of first-person narrative, and with a twist – the protagonist is an amoral non-human, who doesn’t understand humans. As with my taste in visual art, I am drawn to those who buck the trend; in this book, @Joi_the_Artist does just that, making the work very much HERS, as opposed to an “in the style of” generic.

The body of the tale is a set of linked scenes, each a story in itself. Some scenes are of the “and they all lived happily ever after,” but some anything but. An early review of The Lord of the Rings mentioned “By turns comic and homely, epic and diabolic…” – A Circle of Salt made me think of that quote. Whilst the Power of Three often gives a hint at what happens next, sometimes what happens next can be a shocker. The ending is – different. I won’t say any more, because I wouldn’t have wanted to know before I got there. I hope I haven’t given too much away as it is – this is a work to be read, and enjoyed, without spoilers. This is a work that delights through ongoing change, and revelation.

All in all, whilst this beautiful work includes many familiar conventions from traditional Märchen, there is nothing clichéd about the overall effect. A Circle of Salt is an original addition to a classic genre, and I a look forward to seeing more work from this author.

Thank you, Joi, for bringing back some of the magic of my childhood. It is a long time since a story moved me as much as this.

A Circle of Salt on Amazon.com

So what is NAIDOC Week?

We all stand on sacred ground. The ground on which I stand has been the homeland of the Narungga people for time immemorial.

The 5th to the 12th of June 2015 is NAIDOC week. From the official about page:

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Last year, I may have heard of NAIDOC week, but I couldn’t have told you what it is. This year, I’m making it my business to find out, and I hope others will join me.

Mainstream media coverage of Indigenous matters in Australia tends to be thin on the ground; the phrase that springs to mind being “bugger all.” The only way that I have begun to learn of them is through Indigenous voices, and advocates on social media, primarily Twitter. It is through these voices that I have learnt many uncomfortable truths about the lot of Australia’s First Peoples – including that in which the current administration appears to be doing anything but improving the situation.

For those who want to join me in this learning journey, allow me to share some resources. Firstly you can follow, the #NAIDOC2015 Twitter hashtag. Here are a couple of “Follow Friday” tweets I made, being a go-to list of accounts to follow. Tweet 1, and Tweet 2. (Note: I made a transcription error in the second – first account should be @flashblack.)

Most essential reading, at the moment, is @IndigenousX, where current curator, Law PhD candidate, Darren Parker is talking about the history of the Australian Constitution, as relates to Indigenous peoples. Go back to Friday morning on the timeline, to get the story from the beginning. (History of Law may sound like a dry subject, but Darren is making it fascinating reading.) Also @WeAreAustralia is under the curation of Indigenous voices for the week, including IndigenousX founder, @LukeLPearson.

@mskieralouise has curated the @IndigenousX tweets on the Introduction to Australian Constitutional Law. Here’s another account, from @InflappableAK. (Kudos to them.)

Here is a Storify of tweets by @LukeLPearson, summarising the results of the @IndigenousX Constitutional Recognition Survey.

If I find further resources, I will add them here.

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