Some writers take you to strange landscapes on far away worlds, others draw you into foreign avenues of the mind that you've never considered or hoped to explore and others still lay pieces of themselves, their lives and their culture bare. Roy Russell, the Author of Feast: A Gitksan Story, finds himself in that final class as he offers up a fictional story of loss, hope, heritage and insight that entertains while framing an intimate portrayal of his real life culture and childhood communities feasting rituals.
Feast: A Gitksan Story reads, not only, as a slice of life about the everyday stress and release of life and returning home in a time of need but as a looking glass into what makes a tight knit community a family and how even in celebrating the loss of a loved one we can find hope and solace to stand alongside our grief.
The story follows Walt, Angie and to a lesser extent the entire community of Gitsegukla as Walt's sudden death offers us an insight into their customs, rituals and beliefs in the hereafter. From the windy streets of Toronto and a troubled, weary soul to the tears, laughs and reflections of remembering someone for who they truly were while hoping that their spirit can rest woven into a backdrop of small town snowy white. The author lovingly illustrates not only the comings and goings of the grieving and their ways of coping with loss but a hopeful glance at the afterlife and what is has to offer to the Gitksan people. It's the small touches, like avoiding a cars mirror out of superstition to the metaphysical trip Walt makes "up the mountain" that we're given a glimpse of a humble, caring, compassionate people and their faith.
At it's core Feast: A Gitksan Story is one of finding love, hope and support in those around you and knowing that no matter who in your life passes on to the great unknown that is death they will never be far from your heart. It's an honest, warm piece of fiction colored in the rich tapestry of a spiritually abundant people which is something the world needs more of.