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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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6 Conclusion


6  Conclusion

The theoretical frame at the confluence of literatures, cultures, and borders is widened and deepened by a spatial and border-related reading of contemporary North American fiction. This has been precisely this study’s approach and procedure. New insights have been gained for both American studies and border studies. Border readings inform the understanding of borders, borderlands, and bordering practices and processes. Here, border fiction has been analyzed in context, focusing on the notion of the “beyond”. While binaries are often created by bordering processes and the prevalence of geopolitical boundaries in a globalized, though also reterritorializing world, these binaries are transcended through various literary methods in fiction. The diverse, but complementary settings include King’s border river in the Prairies and Plains, Mosher’s utopian “third space” of Kingdom Mountain situated on the Vermont-Quebec boundary, and Lynch’s Washington and British Columbia cross-border community. This study’s underlying premise and theorem is one of transcendence as encapsulated in the bird trope. Birds fly across boundaries and symbolize the idealized projection of societal and geopolitical concepts beyond border binaries. In Border Songs, birding as well as being bird-like is contrasted to bordering and exaggerated border policing. “Big Bird” and border guard Brandon embodies this stance.

By discussing three border texts selected from the narrative work of King, Mosher, and Lynch, I have illustrated the concept of the beyond by analyzing the writers’ narrative strategies and their conscious choice of settings, tropes, characters, and plot. The authors “write back” creatively, employing...

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