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Narrating North American Borderlands

Thomas King, Howard F. Mosher and Jim Lynch


Evelyn P. Mayer

The study centers on the presentation of the North American borderlands in the works of Canadian Native writer Thomas King’s Truth & Bright Water (1999), American writer Howard Frank Mosher’s On Kingdom Mountain (2007), and American writer Jim Lynch’s Border Songs (2009). The three authors describe the peoples and places in the northeastern, middle and northwestern border regions of the USA and Canada. The novels address important border-oriented aspects such as indigeneity, the borderlands as historic territory and as utopian space, border crossing and transcendence, post-9/11 security issues, social interaction along the border, and gender specifics. The interpretation also examines the meaning of border imaginaries, border conceptualizations, and the theme of resistance and subversion.
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4 Howard Frank Mosher’s On Kingdom Mountain (2007): Borderlands as Utopia


4  Howard Frank Mosher’s On Kingdom Mountain (2007): Borderlands as Utopia

Quebec-Vermont Borderlands. (Focus and emphasis added).

Kingdom Mountain as a postnational, post-racial, and postcolonial place is most important for the novel’s protagonist Jane Hubbell Kinneson, the so-called Duchess of Kingdom Mountain, and as the setting of the novel. Kingdom Mountain is a utopian space, a mountain kingdom marked by unique nature, hybridity, and its own rules despite the geopolitical boundary cutting through Kingdom Mountain and Jane’s home. The partly indigenous protagonist not only resists the commodification of nature and the development of her Native land in the name of dubious progress, but also disrupts societal expectations by welcoming partly African American Henry Satterfield, the aviator from the South, to Kingdom Mountain. In so doing, the Duchess draws on her family’s legacy of inclusiveness and social justice having been actively involved with the Underground Railroad. Linking with the indigenous experience and critique of the imposition ← 113 | 114 → of artificial and colonial borders on Native lands, Howard Frank Mosher highlights the arbitrary nature of the international line in a humorous fashion. Jane eats in her kitchen with one foot in Canada and one in the United States, because the international boundary represented by a yellow line on the floor runs directly through her house on Kingdom Mountain. Precisely due to that position of the line the border is nothing more than a “family joke” (10). It is an insignificant line on the ground in the...

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