American writer Wendell Berry argues that there is an explicit link between the tendency to treat places primarily as sites for resource extraction and treating people like exchangeable parts. It is this neoliberal rhetoric of abstraction—of people and place — that Lisa Moore’s novel, February, critiques in its portrayal of the sinking of the oil rig, Ocean Ranger, off the coast of Newfoundland in 1982. The novel reveals the grief of one family following the loss of their father, and illustrates how the impact of a tragedy of this scope lasts for generations. Perhaps more importantly, though, the novel shows how one widower’s refusal to simply get over the death of her husband resists the kind of corporate amnesia that treats people and places as abstractions that can be easily replaced. Her prolonged grief suggests that “resistant mourning,” a concept advocated by proponents such as Jacques Derrida and R. Clifton Spargo, might offer the possibility of an ethical response to the tragedies caused by resource extraction.
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