Date:January 24, 2012

The Words of My Roaring

The The Words of My Roaring, the colourful first novel in Robert Kroetsch’s Out West trilogy, is set in the same Alberta farm country as the better-known The Studhorse Man and Gone Indian. More conventional and accessible than the others, The Words of My Roaring moves kinetically through a 1930s provincial election campaign as experienced by the irrepressible Johnnie Backstrom. An undertaker, a drunk, a self-proclaimed “heller with women,” and a neophyte political candidate, Johnnie begins his campaign by recklessly promising rain to the drought-stricken prairie. His bemused opponent, the popular Doc Murdoch, delivered Johnnie as a baby 33 years before and still thinks of him as his “first-born.” Johnnie’s party leader is the Bible-thumping, Ontario-bashing John George Applecart, loosely based on the historical “Bible Bill” Aberhart. As Johnnie struggles to define himself against these father figures, Kroetsch offers a lively portrait of small-town Depression-era politics and the roots of present-day western alienation.