Woods Wolf Girl – BC Book World

BC Book World Review
Volume 25, No. 3
Autumn 2011

Seeing Red
By Kara A. Smith

The earthy sexual tension between a B.C. wolf and a girl named Red is the subject for Cornelia Hoogland’s Woods Wolf Girl, a series of monologues, or victim reports, in which readers experience the rumbling, boiling interior of a teenager who just needed one instinctual meeting on a cross-roads, in the woods, to have her concealed interior explode.

This is fairy tale moralism turned upside-down. In Woods Wolf Girl, we meet the woods-man, a Cardinal Richelieu-type witch hunter, who pursues Red simply to point out her original sin. And, in contrast to the judgmental woodsman, we meet the natural world, wolf.

Wolf acts as the catalyst for Red’s innate desires: “he shows her/ sapphire, the sky in fall/ when yellow poplars clap so loud/ you just have to look up. / Yes, she says,/ yes.” For the first time in her life, the woods is released, and “it was [Red] doing the inviting.”

Hoogland’s lyrical narrative draws the reading through the meandering pathways of the woods, our natural, shared, feminist mythology of Red Riding Hood, and enables us to feel the cemented girl breaking through her social bars and becoming the food of the forest: “her mouth ripe as the berry bush.”

Why do we repress our innate, natural selves? To what purpose, and for whom? As Red experiences a coming of age, realizing “how [her] body has always wanted to be a basket of gifts,” readers will recognize this girl’s future perception of the aging wolf (and world) as just a man, “hoping to fluff up his hair.”

This is an exceptional retelling of an age-old fable.


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