Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tobacco Wars

Tobacco Wars by Paul Seesequasis
Published:  2010 by Quattro Books
Source :  Received from publisher as part of TLC Book Tour

  It shames me to say that I have not read much Native Canadian or American literature.  In fact, the only book that comes to mind that I have read is On the Rez by Ian Frazier, and that is  non-fiction written by an outsider.  So I was looking forward to reading Tobacco Wars and hosting a stop on the TLC Book Tour, hoping to introduce myself to a new genre of writing.

  Tobacco Wars is a novella with two narratives -- one of Pocahontas and her travels to London and relationship with Ben Jonson; the other an apparent Indian legend featuring a she-bear and a wolf pack.  Throughout both tobacco is mentioned, but frankly I did not see this as the main focus, which is what I expected given the book's title.  

  Again, I'm ashamed to admit that I don't know much about the real Pocahontas so I can't say how close or divergent this story is to the truth.  But it is interesting, and perhaps my own ignorance is revealed when I'm surprised at how well she is able to manage when she is in London.

  The legend part of the story, however, was not my cup of tea at all.  It seems to describe a creation -- of perhaps a nation, perhaps the entire world? -- but the way it is described is, well, crude and to me not pleasant to read.  Tobacco is introduced and the legend moves to tell of its influence on society even in the present day.  I think I understand what the author is trying to get at here -- oppression of Native populations fueled in part by the high demand for tobacco -- but I did not like the way he did it.

  Perhaps when and if I read more Native North American literature I will come back to this book with a better understanding of its background.

  Please make sure to visit the other stops on the tour:

Wednesday, July 13: Reading Lark

Thursday, July 14: Chaotic Compendiums

Monday, July 18: Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books

Tuesday, July 19: Jenny Loves to Read

Tuesday, July 26: Lit and Life

Wednesday, July 27: Man of La Book

Thursday, July 28: Man of La Book - author Q&A

Thursday, July 28: My Two Blessings

Tuesday, August 2: Bibliosue

Wednesday, August 3: Scandalous Women

Thursday, August 4: Life In Review


  1. I have heard some pretty weird things about this book. One reviewer described certain sections of it as "bear porn". I am not sure I would like to read this one at all, and from the reviews I have read, everyone seems to feel pretty much the same way about it.

  2. I read a bit of this book and thought "ew."

    A Native Canadian novel I fully recommend is Motorcycles and Sweetgrass by Drew Hayden Taylor which is funny and well-written. I loved it!

  3. I'm sorry this one didn't turn out to be what you expected, but thanks for sharing your thoughts as part of the tour.

  4. Zibilee -- I love that term 'bear porn', it is definitely appropriate.

    Chrisbookarama -- Thank you for the recommendation. I'll look for it when I'm visiting Toronto and Winnipeg in a few weeks.

    Heather -- Thanks for letting me participate in the tour.


What do you think? Good or bad, I'd love to hear from you (but be nice - I'm sensitive!)