Sarah Felix Burns: Jackfish, The Vanishing Village

Jackfish, the Vanishing VillageJackfish, The Vanishing Village is an imaginary autobiography about a woman with a traumatic past and her need for redemption. Sarah Felix Burns has masterfully written a book so eloquent in description, yet so horrifically tragic that the line between beautiful and ugliness becomes blurred in a strangely contradictory way.

Burns did such a magnificent job of telling a story that was wrapped up in a small little village that vanished and using it as a metaphor for the main character’s life. Though I realized pretty early on in the story this was what she was doing, the whole story was woven in such a way the village and the main character’s life became synonymous with each other. The difference between the demise of this small village and the downward spiral of the character’s life is the character was able to re-establish herself.

When I reflect on my experience reading Jackfish, I am utterly amazed at the lack of emotion I had while reading this, but also the intense emotion I had when I finished the book. I had become Clemance-Marie Nadeau from the Village of Jackfish in Canada. I’m not sure the last time that happened when I read a book. Just like the character shut herself off from feeling emotion, I shut myself off also…right after the part in the story that would have caused her to shut down.

Burns wrote Jackfish in such a way, I experienced every thing she was describing. I felt the cold weather in Canada. I felt like I had experienced the brutally horrific rapings. I felt like I was falling into the depths of hell without a lifeline to pull me back up. I seriously had to take a shower after these sections. I completely understood her need to tell someone everything and not wait around for analysis. I understand her reasons for leaving her husband and then wanting him back. I was exhausted when I finished this book.

This was the saddest, most tragic book I’ve ever read. Yet, its one of the only books that has ever touched my soul as incredibly as Jackfish has. I don’t think I could ever read it again, but it will always be on my bookshelf. Have you ever heard Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven? If I had to put this book to music, I would pick Moonlight Sonata. Hector Berlioz is said to have remarked that this particular piece “is one of those poems that human language does not know how to qualify.” This describes exactly my feelings on ‘Jackfish, A Vanishing Village’.

There are few books in this world that tell a story as impactful as “Jackfish, the Vanishing Village”. There are few authors who can tell a story as descriptive and as beautifully as Sarah Felix Burns. I, wholeheartedly, recommend this book. The story deserves your full attention.

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Inanna Publications & Education (November 15, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0978223330
ISBN-13: 978-0978223335

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