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Three Day Road

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Three Day Road, first editionFirst edition
Joseph Boyden
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First book publication
2005, Canada

Literature form

Literary, historical fiction

Writing language

Author's country

approx. 130,000 words

Notable lines

We walk through the snow, follow our trail out to the traplines by the willows. I lead, sleepy. Bitter air. Elijah walks in my tracks. The sun is coming.

— First lines

I slip into half dreams, go back to my short time in the residential school, old sister Magdalene and her stinking breath like burnt wool. I see her mouth moving as we boys sit frightened at our desks, her words pouring out like the river. "The old Cree are heathen and anger God," she says. "The Cree are a backwards people and God's displeasure is shown in that He makes your rivers run backwards, to the North instead of to the south like in the civilized world." She smacks my desk with her ruler and sparks fly from it, a thin tree on fire. "When you accept Him He will perform a great miracle. He will caused the rivers in this barren place to run in the right direction."


Half a soldier lies on the ground. His eyes are open and looking around in a panic. From the waist down there is nothing left of him, just ropes of red gut and intestine where his hips should be.


We all fight on two fronts, the one facing the enemy, the one facing what we do to the enemy.


The image of the soldier's head exploding makes my stomach churn. I retch a little and spit up bile from my empty stomach, my throat burning and the acrid smell of my own insides making me retch a bit more. I look over to Elijah.

Elijah stares through his scope still, smiling to himself. "I got him, didn't I?" he whispers.

"You did," I answer.


I listen to the sounds of the night animals not so far away. I hear the fox and the marten chasing mice. I hear the whoosh of great wings as an Arctic owl sweeps close by, and after that the almost silent step of a bigger animal, a lynx perhaps, keeping watch with her yellow eyes. I lie here and look at the sky, then at the river, the black line of it heading north. By tomorrow we'll be home.

— Last lines


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