cover image A Grandmother Begins the Story

A Grandmother Begins the Story

Michelle Porter. Algonquin, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-64375-518-2

Memoirist Porter (Scratching River) imbues her well-crafted debut novel with her Métis culture’s storytelling traditions. Among the many characters who narrate are the spirit of matriarch Mamé, who’s having trouble getting settled in the afterlife; her octogenarian daughter Geneviéve, finally dealing with her alcoholism; Carter, Geneviéve’s great-granddaughter, a young woman who was given up for adoption as a baby and is now coming to terms with being Métis and getting to know her biological mother and grandmother; Dee, a young bison who ignores her elders as she searches for the male bison that fathered her calf; and Bets, Geneviéve’s car, who cares for Geneviéve as they drive to a rehab facility. The author juggles the myriad story lines with élan, touching on family relationships in the human and animal world, the pull of the living on the spirits of the dead, and the stories and songs passed down from generation to generation. This brings a web of interconnected voices to vivid life. (Nov.)