__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

THE CREATIVE EYE How Photo and Word Craft Experience

THE 10 BEST ATLANTIC CANADIAN BOOKS FROM THE LAST DECADE

COOKBOOKING WITH KARL

How to Get the Most from Your Food Tomes

atlantic books today SPRING 2019

SUPER

BOOKS Inspire Citizens Transform Thought Touch The Heart Save The Economy

No. 89 Publications Mail Agreement 40038836


Find your way

outdoors!

dition

19 E NEW 20

Includes over 130 provincial reserves & wilderness areas for the first time More than 150 clearly-marked and updated hiking trails 100+ completely updated parks Hold the province in your hands – no cell signal or power required! $29.95

NEW! The East Coast’s only nature guide series!

$14.95 each

Formac Publishing Company limited

www.formac.ca


Contents Number 89 Spring 2019

Food 28

Cookbooking with Karl Food Critic Karl Wells gleans kitchen (and life?) lessons from two new cookbooks

Young Readers 32

16

28 Foreword

6

Notable Quotables Sizzling one-liners from the season’s hottest new books

In Conversation 7

Author To Author shalan joudry and Katie Vautour discuss Indigenous and settler science and worldviews, animal representation, imagery and form in their respective new works

Features 16

Seeing is Re-living How photography & wordcraft shape experience

21

From the Dining Room Table to Paradise Flanker Press has been publishing Newfoundland writers and stories for 25 years

24 The 10 Best Atlantic Canadian Books Since Atlantic Canada’s 100 Greatest Books

Cover Story 9

Super Books! Literature with the power to make us understand difference, love each other better, rally together and work to change the world

News Feature 14

#IReadLocal How libraries are using emerging technology to connect readers

ABOUT THE COVER

Profile 26

International Conflict and Social Justice Journalist’s Ghosts Within Garry Leech writes of his PTSD, the result of decades of reporting from Latin American conflict zones

I like to try to take stereotypical themes like “super hero” and give them a little extra depth. Rather than super common poses like flying or standing tall, I thought the idea of a super book rushing off to save the day—or rather engage with readers—was still recognizable but not seen quite so often. Adding the glasses also suggests a secret identity, and the idea of not judging a book by its cover, along with reinforcing the idea of reading. —Joel Duggan, illustrator

Lisa Doucet & Jo-Anne Elder review adventures in Speaking Mi’kmaw and Louisiana French, Fighting Horse Pirates, Struggling for Workers’ Rights + more

Reviews 38

Eva Crocker Reviews Coming-ofAge Tale About What It Means to be Part of a Community

39 Gemma Marr Reviews Stories

About the Beautiful Ambiguity of Tension and Struggle

40 Corey Redekop Reviews

Charmingly Cartoonish Yet Affecting Tale of Childhood Angst

41

Stephanie Domet Reviews Collection of Women’s Voices

42

John Wall Barger Reviews Katherine Hughes Time-Space Auto-Bio-Verse

Excerpts 43

Mayann Francis: An Honourable Life, Dangerous Enemy Sympathizers, I Am a Body of Land, Pipe Dreams, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club

New Books 48

Editor’s Picks 36 Atlantic Canadian books that are generating buzz this season

afterword 50

The Atlantic Book Everyone Should Read

Atlantic Books Today

3


Editor’s Message Penguin Australia launched this year with a post urging, “Make 2019 the Year of the Book!” It’s Penguin, so “year of the book” is an evergreen phrase. Same can be said for Atlantic Books Today. Our MO for the past quarter century has been to proudly trumpet the merits of local literature, a field in which we punch well above our weight and the rest of the country mostly doesn’t know it. With our first issue of 2019, we heeded Penguin’s advice and went whole hog (it’s also the year of the pig by the by), celebrating some of our region’s most powerful books, new and old. In our cover story (Super Books! page 10), Norma Jean MacPhee considers books with the power to shape our worldview, what we aspire to be, what kind of world we’re willing to fight for. I convinced Trevor J Adams, who 10 years ago co-authored Atlantic Canada’s 100 Greatest Books, to break his vow of never again making such a list. He came up with the 10 best local books since the 100 best books (page 24). Readers are sure to have bones to pick; send your thoughts on social media, our website or editorial@atlanticpublishers.ca.

Saltwater Mittens Saltwater Classics Warm designs for beautiful hand-knitted hats, mitts, gloves, socks and vamps. Plus funny Newfoundland knitting stories.

Rather than rely exclusively on Trevor (reliable though he is), we asked six book experts—two academics, a cartoonist, a librarian, and two writer/editors—to each recommend one Atlantic book that everyone, everywhere, should read. You probably won’t agree with them either. The reality is, and I hope you’ll agree with this much, the wealth of high-quality Atlantic Canadian books to choose from is vast. I’ve tried to do my “year of the book” part too, and doubled the usual number of editor’s picks for this issue. Like every issue, the stories about books herein highlight more options than one person could read. As the title of Lisa Moore’s recent short story collection goes, I hope there’s a little something for everyone. And on a last note, I’d like to say a temporary good-bye. I’ll be spending the next year as writer-in-residence at Lunenburg Library. Karalee Clerk will be Editor in my stead. Chris Benjamin Erratum In our winter issue we used the pronoun “his” in referring to Taapoategl, who is a 10-year-old girl in Peter J Clair’s novel, Taapoategl & Pallet. We apologize for the error.

From a modest rural home to the highest office

in the country!

Also available « en français »

Coming Fall 2019

709-895-3457 info@boulderbooks.ca

4

atlanticbookstoday.ca

$19.95

“A great story that will inspire young Canadians all across the country”. Jean Chrétien, Former Prime Minister of Canada

Éditions BOUTON D’OR ACADIE www.boutondoracadie.com | info@boutondoracadie.com (506) 382-1367


atlantic books today Atlantic Books Today is published by the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association (www.atlanticpublishers.ca), which gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Canada Book Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage. Opinions expressed in articles in Atlantic Books Today do not necessarily re­flect the views and opinions of the Board of the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association.

Love books? JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

REVIEWS, CONTESTS & MORE PUBLISHER Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association

ATLANTICBOOKSTODAY.CA/NEWSLETTER

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Lisa Harrison lisaharrison@atlanticpublishers.ca CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER Alex Liot alexliot@atlanticpublishers.ca EDITORS Chris Benjamin Karalee Clerk editorial@atlanticpublishers.ca

atlantic books today

ART DIRECTOR Gwen North design@atlanticpublishers.ca ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Chantelle Rideout admin@atlanticpublishers.ca Printed in Canada. This is issue number 89 Spring 19. Atlantic Books Today is published three times a year. All issues are numbered in sequence. Total Atlantic-wide circulation: 100,000. ISSN 1192-3652 One-year subscriptions to Atlantic Books Today are available for $16 ($18.40 including HST). Please make cheques payable to the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association and mail to address below or contact apma.admin@atlanticpublishers.ca for subscription inquiries. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40038836 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association Atlantic Books Today Suite 710, 1888 Brunswick Street Halifax, NS B3J 3J8 Phone: 902-420-0711 Fax: 902-423-4302 atlanticbookstoday.ca @abtmagazine facebook.com/AtlanticBooksToday Atlantic Books Today

5


FOREWORD

Notable Quotables Sizzling one-liners from the season’s hottest new books “What Sophie liked most about the Metro was the moment when a train flew into the station and sent people’s hair flying. Sal had told her that the whole point of juggling was the pattern the balls made when they were at their zenith, just before they started their descent.”  —Heather Nolan in This Is Agatha Falling, a novella (Pedlar Press)

“It took only two weeks for influenza to kill nearly everyone in Hebron, Okak, and the camps near them. Survivors were recovering slowly and must have been overwhelmed by profound sadness and uncertainty about the future. It was horrible to contemplate, but the possibility existed that it might be even worse than the present.” —Anne Budgell in We All Expected to Die (ISER Books)

————

————

I have woken up in your chest hair, America, and settled in to the hotel from the internet. Boyfriend turned away at the border is coming tomorrow, separate cars. I’m stuck behind a red Crossfire, hot red, that’s trying to bypass the heart of downtown Portland. I’m way past it all — past Seattle, endless gambling casinos, the Home-O-Expo, and the religious billboards. —Matthew Walsh, in their poem, “View-Master,” from These are not the potatoes of my youth (icehouse poetry)

“‘After the War,’ Alex Colville once told an interviewer, ‘I had this great desire to make sense out of life.’ … A Sisyphean task. Nevertheless, he kept rolling that stone up the hill, kept seeking and creating ordered moments and images, always aware of their essential and tragic fragility.” ­—Ray Cronin in Alex Colville: A Rebellious Mind (Gaspereau Press)

————

“...how my tiny heartbeat haunted his ears like a metronome.” (Sarah Mian); “let us...reconcile the distance between us” (shalan joudry); “Had he slipped into the sea as dawn was breaking?” (Don Hannah); “Saffron and rose flavour the brook...” ( Janet Barkhouse); “We’ll go at first light.” (Linda Moore); “Stay, I say. Please Stay.” (Alexander MacLeod); “If the light stopped, so would we.” (Basma Kavanagh). —Various authors in Aubade: Poetry and Prose from Nova Scotia Writers (Boularderie Island Press)

“Gilbert turned to the older boys. ‘You two run over and get the Captain to wire Sheriff Flynn,’ he instructed. ‘Tell him that we found a dead body on the beach, and he better get out here and be damn quick about it.’” —Laurie Glenn Norris in her new novel, Found Drowned (Vagrant Press) ———— “…days [of railways criss-crossing Nova Scotia] have passed thanks to the advent of the automobile, improved highways, long-haul trucking, and the vagaries of resource extraction and market demands. The number of railways operating today in the province can be tallied on one hand, with fingers left over.” —Mike Parker in End of the Line (Pottersfield Press) ———— “...only thing that had made this living situation bearable until now was her faith. Faith in Allah. Faith that she’d see her parents again. Faith that the war would one day end and after Syria was rebuilt they’d return to live there again. She’d not lost that faith—not yet.” —Alison DeLorey in her debut novel, Making It Home (Nimbus Publishing)

6

atlanticbookstoday.ca

————

———— “I feel better the moment I step into the dusty darkness of Judith’s basement. I feel for the nearest light cord. Familiar clutter springs into light and shadow. I start. Someone is here. “Bara?” But even as I say her name, I know it’s not her.” ­­—Anne Bishop in her debut novel, Under the Bridge (Roseway Publishing) ———— “It’s no secret I’ve been living for one thing and one thing only, but I’ll be honest—once I turned 50 40 ‘something’, I seriously wondered if this dream that was slipping through my liverspotted fingers would ever come true.” —Colleen Landry’s delusional alter ego in Miss Nackawic Meets Midlife (Chocolate River Publishing)


I N C O N V E R S AT I O N

Author to Author shalan joudry and Katie Vautour discuss Indigenous and settler science and worldviews, animal representation, imagery and form in their respective new works

Katie Vautour (right) is a visual artist and writer published in a variety of literary journals, and though she dabbles in all genres (including fiction, non-fiction and playwriting), her main focus is poetry. An Unorthodox Guide to Wildlife is her debut collection and explores the spaces where humans and other animals meet. shalan joudry is a poet, performance artist and storyteller. Elapultiek is her first play and deals with complex themes of reconciliation, science and the natural environment. The two poets shared a conversation about their work.

Photo of Katie Vautour: Paddy Barry; photo of shalan joudry: Dan Froese.

shalan joudry: What an interesting idea for a series of poems about such a diversity of wildlife. Where did the concept come from; did you set out to create this as a collection? And how did you observe or learn about these animals? Katie Vautour: Most of my poems’ starting points come from personal observation or experience. That can range from direct interaction with animals, whether in nature or zoos, as pets, or consideration of documentaries and books. I’m a visual artist as well. My work is very intuitive, so I try not to think much about it while writing. Sometimes I’ll start writing from a brief stream-of-consciousness concept from an image or sketch or memory or begin with a very rigid poetry form, depending on what I think the subject matter requires. This often changes during editing. Normally, after an initial draft, I wait a few days, at least, then go back and look over the piece. It’s then I’ll often print out the text. That’s when I discover that, well, maybe this short story actually wants to be made into several poems, or maybe this elegy should be free verse instead. So I’ll physically cut out words and sentences and begin to rearrange them on a separate page, until the visual placement appears to suit the subject matter and experience I wanted to capture. At least, as best I can.

That’s what I really love about poetry; I think it’s the most visual and visceral form of writing, in terms of text on the page. Looking back on it, I have no true agenda, other than to write what seemed right, ha. How about you, shalan? Your inspiration was that you worked on Species at Risk, isn’t that right? sj: Yes, I watched and counted Endangered Chimney Swifts over the course of four springs for Maritime Swiftwatch. I have also worked with various non-Mi’kmaw biologists and those experiences created a great inspiration for this work. My years with other ecologists have provided the time for relationship building, to be able to move important conversations deeper and build more trust and understanding. I also wanted to tell this story focusing on a specific species at risk. We have so many species losing habitat and struggling to survive in the changing landscapes, and I wanted to talk about one as an example. The chimney swifts are really amazing to watch as they circle in the sky at dusk to descend together into their communal roost. There’s a roost in an empty house in downtown Bear River, not far from my community, and I love to watch the swifts in the spring. You end up standing there on the sidewalk with other Atlantic Books Today

7


I N C O N V E R S AT I O N

Elapultiek: We Are Looking Towards shalan joudry Pottersfield Press

An Unorthodox Guide to Wildlife Katie Vautour Breakwater Books

people in anticipation and then you end up chit chatting about life as you wait. One day, I realized that was the backdrop to a story. You wrote about the clash between animals and humans in your book, sometimes the specific hardships of certain animals. Did you feel that you were being a witness as a writer, or do you have a hope with these…? KV: I didn’t necessarily set out to write a book primarily about animal and human relationships. I don’t have a particular agenda while writing or making art. I’ve simply always been curious about animals and the natural world, and how humans decide who, or when, or why, they think owns the natural and manmade world, or the creatures within it. I think it raises some important, if tricky, questions, about the personification of creatures, and how people observe and come to understand (or not) nature and different species, including humans themselves. Regarding specific poems, one was originally tilted “My Brother and the Hare,” but is now “Military Survival Training.” It does sound particularly specific, which is true, since my brother is in the military and was, in fact, given a pet hare to care for, then had to take it with him into the woods. My brother wasn’t given any food. You can guess what happened to his poor pet rabbit after a few weeks. I was interested in working with very constricting forms at the time, and it seemed the repetition within the sestina served the subject matter well. shalan, in Elapultiek, Bill, a non-Mi’kmaw biologist, struggles with Nat, a Mi’kmaw character’s, way of doing things. Why do you think there is that resistance among scientists to believe in cultural practices?

8

atlanticbookstoday.ca

sj: There can be quite a clash of worldviews between mainstream science and Mi’kmaw cultural practice; however, I found in real life that there is a growing awareness and openness to what we now call Two-eyed Seeing, thanks to Elders like Albert Marshall where we view the ecological project with both the mainstream science and the cultural eye, without one overpowering the other. I do understand their hesitancy, though. We’re taught in university science programs about the importance of keeping objectivity. Cultural biases are supposed to remain outside the work. However, many people realize that cultural bias is indeed within all that we do and how we see the world around us, how we interact and analyze information. Mi’kmaw methodology in ecology is very much about subjectivity and your personal relationship with the topic. That’s a difficult difference to agree on when you’re sitting on a species recovery team. Although, we find ways to weave back and forth, allowing both the “objective measuring” to take its moment and then allow the subjective cultural practice to have a role as well. I tried to demonstrate that possibility and hope in this work. Katie, you used spacing as a way to say more with the words, to invoke a different sensation, I believe. How did you decide when and where to move the words around the page? KV: I think it’s because I’m a visual artist as well that my sense of words on the page are also my way of best representing the meaning. For example, the poem about the giraffe was inspired (for lack of a better word) by watching a giraffe lean over a lake, in the awkward way that they do, trying to decide whether or not to take a drink. He was looking down like he was staring at his own reflection, the narcissist, so I stretched out the poem vertically down several pages, with a lot of white space, in an attempt to visually reconstruct that image and concept. So I guess, often the subject dictates the form, and occasionally vice versa. sj: I’m not a visual artist, and so I find that fascinating. Many of my projects are based on words and I find the particular medium for each piece that wants to come into the world. For example, I’m also a poet but this story of Bill and Nat needed to be a play. The theatre company Two Planks and a Passion called on me a couple years ago to ask me if I would consider writing a play, and I was happy to tell them I already had an idea for a play. It was perfect timing and a great experience. The printed version came about so that others—who weren’t able to watch the play performed—could read the story. I believe that art has a way of finding the right form to move our hearts and minds, often in ways that workshops and speeches can’t. ■


C O V E R S T O RY

Super Books! Literature with the power to make us understand difference, love each other better, rally together and work to change the world

by Norma Jean MacPhee

WORDS, WORDS, WORDS. Shakespeare tossed out that phrase as Hamlet’s response to Polonius. Facetious in his intent, because, in truth, “words, words, words” contain kinetic power. String enough together to make a book, and you can pack a wallop that satisfies a reader, yet leaves them bubbling with a “Huh, didn’t realize that before” feeling. Some books carry perhaps the most exciting potential of all: the ability to change things, to inspire and create a movement. With enough consistent, accurate information and a moving or convincing narrative, a conversation of change can develop. Take, for instance, Anne Bishop’s new novel, Under the Bridge, which portrays many pertinent, connected issues of social justice with heart, humour and stark truth. When people burn with injustice they’re often rendered as crazy, unreliable, trouble-makers. Lucy, this novel’s protagonist, is labelled in that way by some. She’s a middle-age woman, fresh out of jail and living on the streets. Infused throughout the novel—from the opening rant about the origin of roses to the exquisite nature of snowflakes “spinning out of the darkness”—is hope and love. Hope lives and breathes in the friendships and genuine hearts of those giving their all to improve life for the planet, themselves and others. I could picture faces of women I’ve interviewed as a journalist over the years. The streets of Halifax popping to life on the pages. Atlantic Books Today

9


C O V E R S T O RY

Bishop shows the immense frustration of those working for equality and justice amidst a machine of globalization. “Are people guilty of what they don’t know about?” Bara, a teenager finding her way genuinely asks Lucy this question, in reference to Lucy’s anger toward shoppers in an expensive clothing store. Lucy replies: “I know, they don’t intend to harm anyone, but does that make any difference to the woman getting paid pennies to sit at a sewing machine making their clothes? Or starving because their coffee is grown on the land that used to grow her family’s food?” Throughout the book, Lucy talks with Bara about international political actions that have very real local consequences, such as structural violence, fair trade and exploitive mining efforts across the world. “Once you make me see this stuff, I can’t un-see it, ever. I feel like Humpty Dumpty.” I can’t un-see it. Powerful words from Bara. It’s hard to fight for justice and equity for the Earth and all living beings when most times you’re swimming upstream. It’s equally hard asking people to see past their immediate gratification to consider the impacts of their decisions and choices.

Under the Bridge Anne Bishop Roseway Publishing

Too Dumb for Democracy? David Moscrop Goose Lane Editions

Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript LM Montgomery Edited by Carolyn Strom Collins Nimbus Publishing

10

atlanticbookstoday.ca

I think that’s what it comes down to. Our choices: how we spend our money and our time. Those choices are undoubtedly placed in the pressure cooker of how our lives are structured. Getting the kids to practice, lunches prepared, evening social events scheduled, fundraising events, shows watched, clothes and dishes washed. The go go go of it all. Fast lunches and fast suppers are most often unhealthy. Obesity. Waste. Plastic is finally in the hot seat. What if every decision considered the end result of each component involved in that decision? All that goes to choices—which leads to decisions. Whether we like it or not, political decisions are at the heart of how our society is governed. In his Goose Lane publication, David Moscrop tackles a surprising one: Too Dumb For Democracy? Why we make bad political decisions and how we can make better ones. “Our choices create the environment in which we live,” Moscrop wisely observes. He answers his own titular question with, no, he doesn’t think society is too dumb for democracy: “We are, however, often stuck in situations that encourage or lead us to make dumb—or what I prefer to call bad—political decisions.”

Real Food, Real Good Michael Smith Penguin Canada

About Face Douglas Gosse Breakwater Books

Annabel Kathleen Winter House of Anansi Press

The Faery Chronicles Ann Brennan Chapel Street Editions


C O V E R S T O RY

SLOWING DOWN, THINKING DIFFERENTLY, MAKING BETTER CHOICES Moscrop outlines issues including the framing of topics and how that framing can distort information, leaving us making decisions on autopilot. He looks at the role our institutions play in upholding particular decisions. He maintains that good political decisions are possible—and essential. They require slowing down, deciphering information and considering various angles of reasoning. These actions presuppose people have the time to sift through documents and rhetoric. Which he acknowledges as part of the problem, as so much political discussion is deliberately made convoluted and confusing. Moscrop’s reasoning goes back to Bishop’s argument of working to get more people out of poverty, so they can spend less time scrimping, saving, working multiple jobs, etc., and more time learning, researching, considering options and making well-informed decisions—being part of shaping the systems that govern all of us. And another of books’ superpowers happens to be the ability to help us slow life down. The very act of reading a book forces us to concentrate, take our time. Many books have been written to help us save time, use time efficiently, and most importantly, think about time differently. PEI’s resident television star and super-chef Michael Smith wrote Real Food, Real Good, his 10th cookbook, which landed on the Globe and Mail bestseller list as soon as it was published in 2016. Smith’s massively influential work guides people to slow it down in the kitchen, making more deliberate, thoughtful choices that impact ourselves, our families and yes, the globe. Smith’s political urging arrives in reasoned conclusions: be vigilant and informed. His “real food strategies” include using real ingredients, making things in advance, planning meals, getting reliable food information from impartial sources, sharing meals and having fun.

He advises readers to shop local and know where meat and fish originate. A section titled “So-Called Foods” highlights items to avoid, such as bouillon cubes, margarine and bacon bits. He also says it’s imperative we educate and inform ourselves by taking the time to read labels, to know what the label means and to navigate through the buzz/green-washed slogans of “fruit juice” or “no sugar added.” Be cognizant of what certain phrases, like “free range,” are supposed to mean, compared with reality. “You may believe these are the chickens living in pastoral splendour, roaming a vast farmer’s field out in the country somewhere. Not so fast. This loosely interpreted term usually means there’s a door in a cage leading to a small outside pen overlooking the parking lot.” His entire food philosophy comes down to the Real Food Pledge—which opens his cookbook: I pledge to stand firm, to make informed choices and embrace simple home cooking as the best way to eliminate artificiality from my food and add the vibrancy or true health. I promise to share my table and serve as an example to my family and other cooks. I know a healthy food lifestyle is essential, easy, inexpensive and most of all delicious. His book helped me out with my conundrum of the grocery store. I explained some of it the other day to my sister. If one eats vegan, or even vegetarian, does one cause more harm due to all the trucking of avocados, bananas, tofu, almond, soy and coconut milk? Really, all vegetables in the winter months. (I thankfully still have some garlic left.) What about the transportation costs of nuts, lentils, rice, quinoa? Eating imported meat is not a great alternative. We often don’t know where the animal was born. What did it eat? Where did it sleep and run during its life? Where it was slaughtered? How far did it travel before it landed in the grocery store? However one answers these questions in their own kitchen, Smith’s work has been a game-changing conversation starter in Canada, which is one of books’ greatest superpowers.

Some books carry perhaps the most exciting potential of all: the ability to change things, to inspire and create a movement.

Atlantic Books Today

11


C O V E R S T O RY

CHARACTERS LEARN TO LOVE DIFFERENT PEOPLE, AND SO CAN WE Another is the ability to reflect and, in special cases, amplify certain realities and challenges to a much larger group of people. It’s a way of gathering new allies. Kathleen Winter’s 2010 novel Annabel—which was shortlisted for the Giller, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and a Governor General’s Award— brought to life a set of circumstances seldom openly talked about. When a child is intersex, what should parents do? “When you are the mother, you take it in stride. You take albino hair in stride, when you are the mother. When you are the mother, not someone watching the mother, you take oddcoloured eyes in stride.” These are the thoughts of Wayne/Annabel’s mother Jacinta as she considers her child’s reality. She and her husband, Treadway are filled with love for their child, but it’s a love marred by the inexplicable delineation of science: Whenever she imagined her child, grown up without interference from a judgmental world, she imagined its male and female halves as complementing each other, and as being secretly, almost magically powerful. It was the growing up part she did not want to imagine. The social part, the going to school in Labrador part, the jeering part, the what will we tell everyone part, the part that asks how will we give this child so much love it will know no harm from the cruel reactions of people who do not want to understand. These last seven words are crucial: “People who do not want to understand.” A concept that goes back to the question, are we too dumb for democracy? If we don’t want to understand unknown elements of life, then what values and knowledge are guiding our decisions? A pretty narrow view, one I’d wager is rooted in fear of the unknown, of new things, of someone different to what we’re accustomed, or different from our expectations. Books come in handy here again, showing us how people can change. Take Marilla Cuthbert, from one of our region’s most powerful superbooks, in terms of long-term impacts, Anne of Green Gables (the original manuscript of which, with marginalia, is now available from Nimbus Publishing). A timeless movement started 111 years ago when Lucy Maud Montgomery introduced Anne Shirley to the world. Anne’s natural wonder continues to inspire people young and old. Montgomery broke convention of the time by giving us this spitfire of a youngster. And a girl at that! Margaret Atwood contends it’s Marilla Cuthbert who makes the true transformation:

12

atlanticbookstoday.ca

“But to love is to become vulnerable. At the beginning of the book, Marilla is all-powerful, but by the end, the structure has been reversed, and Anne has much more to offer Marilla than the other way around.” Marilla’s rigidity is melted by Anne’s genuine love and gratitude for all life offers. Heroes like Anne Shirley, with their indomitable joie de vivre, show us the best possible versions of ourselves, giving us something to aspire to. The reverse of that power is to give us empathy for those who are not living their best possible lives, posing difficult but essential questions. About Face: Essays on Recovery, Therapy and Controversies of Addictions in Canada, new from Breakwater Books in St. John’s, asks, what do we do when faced with irresistible, potentially destructive urges, whether it’s the urge to be right, to be rich, to be drunk, stoned, winning money, having sex? Immediate satisfaction contrasted with long-term planning—for ourselves and for the planet. “Addiction is not a phenomenon of the ‘other’ but affects us all,” editor Douglas Gosse writes, thus universalizing the struggles within, demanding empathy. This book is a collection of essays of firsthand experience concerning a wide variety of addictions. From substance-abuse disorder to shopping and eating addictions. It also includes perspectives from people seeking to help those living with addictions. While it may not always be possible (or advisable) to walk a mile in another’s shoes, we can be allies, even to those we don’t know, who are living lives so opposite to us, yet struggling just as much to think positively about themselves, attempting to achieve their level of happiness amidst struggles of identity, grief, illness, feeling shunned and wanting to shine. Books can illuminate those stories, show us the value of their lives.

Douglas Gosse


C O V E R S T O RY

THE POWER TO UNITE FOR A BETTER WORLD Books also have the power to tie all these things together! The interconnectivity needed in Ann Brennan’s The Faery Chronicles between humans, faeries, water nymphs, gnomes and druids shows readers, in a parallel fantasy world, what true cooperation looks like. Exquisite illustrations by Leland Wong-Daugherty bring these notions to life with vibrant depictions of the characters and their plights. Brennan’s parable reminds us we must all work together and use our differences for the better. Not push certain people, or species, aside out of fear. These publications are united in their end goals. Or end results: asking people—urging them—to slow down, get informed and then make better choices for themselves, for the world. From the preparation of food, the judgment of versus empathy for others, and our often fixed rigidity to our own “normal.” Years ago, fresh out of journalism school, I was fuelled with the confidence, vim and vigour to tackle all issues of injustice. My bookshelves brimmed with books of change, highlighting the many inequalities around the globe. Titles such as Jeffery Sachs’ The End of Poverty, William Easterly’s The White Man’s Burden and Bitter Chocolate by Carol Off. One day while at my apartment, my friend’s eight-year old daughter observed, “Wow, you have a lot of serious books.” She was correct. They were serious books, important to read but also difficult to read without an element of hope. Those topics can make you want to run the other way, helpless to the enormity of it all. But change is possible. Margaret Mead’s timeless words continue to motivate those meetings in coffee shops, classrooms and parks. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The solution has and always will be community. Seeking people who support our intentions and propel us forward. Leading by example, yet also leaning into each other when it’s difficult. Placing faith in our own purpose and potential, while acknowledging the strength of diversity. Recognizing the power, influence and impact of our decisions. Each and everyone of them. In the words of Anne Bishop’s character Lucy: “We have to organize, change our culture into something that will let the rest of the world live.” ■ Norma Jean MacPhee is a freelance journalist in Cape Breton.

The Faery Chronicles

What-Cha Doing? a maple syrup picture book Chocolate River Publishing www.chocolateriver.ca

In 2012, journalist Hugo Meunier went undercover as a Walmart employee for three months in St. Leonard, Quebec. In great detail, he charts the daily life of an impoverished Walmart worker, referring to his shifts at the box store giant as “somewhere between the army and Walt Disney.”

FERNWOOD PUBLISHING www. fernwoodpublishing.ca

Atlantic Books Today

13


N E W S F E AT U R E

#IReadLocal How Libraries are using Emerging Technology to Connect Readers With Books by Sarah Weaver

A

tlantic Canada’s public libraries have embraced technology and are constantly finding new and innovative ways to serve their communities. Anyone can walk into their local library and jump on a computer, use free Wi-Fi on their smartphone or attend a program to help figure out that device they received for Christmas last year. Users can also visit their local library’s website to access digital resources and handy databases, watch live streams of library programs and events, or download an e-book. As technology continues to change how people access and share information, libraries have stepped up to help ensure Atlantic Canadians have equitable access to technology and digital resources. Here are just a few of the fun and creative ways libraries are using technology to promote their collections and connect readers with their next favourite book: A BETTER ONLINE EXPERIENCE Last year, Halifax Public Libraries launched a new website (halifaxpubliclibraries.ca) with features including booklists, event spotlights, blog posts and new photos from library programs. The site has become a virtual hub where community members keep current on local events, browsing staff recommended reading lists such as “New in Nova Scotia” and “Atlantic Fiction,” which highlight exciting local books to borrow. The latest titles from local authors are prominently showcased. One example is Amy Spurway’s first novel, Crow, which was officially launched at Halifax Central Library in March. It is the story of a woman diagnosed with inoperable brain tumours, who moves from Toronto back home to her mother’s trailer in Cape Breton with plans to write a scandalous family memoir. Afraid of the Dark is another first novel, this one by Dartmouth poet Guyleigh Johnson and published by Pottersfield Press, about 16-year-old Kahlua Thomas, who struggles to deal with complex issues connected to her identity, insecurities and home life as a Black teenager in a poor neighbourhood. Set in Dartmouth and Halifax, Kahlua finds escape through her poetry. Johnson said in a recent interview that writing saved her life. She hopes to inspire other young people who may be going through hard times. THE APP FOR THAT IS LIBBY Across Atlantic Canada, community members have access to their local library’s collection of digital e-books and audiobooks through OverDrive’s latest app, Libby. Library users can download the app to their preferred device and, with a few simple taps, create an account, browse titles and borrow books.

14

atlanticbookstoday.ca

At the R is for Reparations (Roseway Publishing) book launch at the Halifax North Library on February 23.

Libby makes it easy to peruse for favourite genres or subject areas. Large cover images make scrolling through titles addictive. As an added perk, e-book readers never suffer late fees. Downloaded files automatically expire at the end of the loan period. In Nova Scotia, libraries are using the Libby app to connect readers to the Read Local E-Book Collection. Featuring Atlantic Canadian authors and publishers, community members can access some of the latest and greatest local titles in a digital format. Throughout March 2019, Nova Scotia held its first Read Local Month. To help celebrate, Halifax Public Libraries and Nova Scotia Public Libraries featured a different local e-book each week. The featured titles were available for unlimited download, which meant no waitlists. Nova Scotians were able to download the featured book and start reading right away. One of the featured books was Louisbourg or Bust: A Surfer’s Wild Ride Down Nova Scotia’s Drowned Coast by RC Shaw, a surfer and teacher from Cow Bay. On his epic trip across Nova Scotia, Shaw bicycled, camped and surfed his way via the Eastern Shore, all the way to Louisbourg. Halifax Central Library invited Shaw for a book reading and discussion the same week his e-book was available for download. Partnering with local publishers to arrange this month-long event was a fantastic way to promote local books and connect readers across the province.


N E W S F E AT U R E

Partnerships between libraries and local publishers are using technology in clever ways to connect readers with local authors and books. NL READS Inspired by CBC’s annual Canada Reads, Newfoundland & Labrador Public Libraries introduced NL READS to promote local authors and connect the province through a shared love of reading. Reader advocates selected local books to champion. Community members were encouraged to read the books and vote online for their favourites. Hoping to get as many people involved as possible, the library provided unlimited downloads for each “book of the month.” Similar to Read Local Month in Nova Scotia, readers only needed a library card to download their own free copy. Abundant print copies were also made available for those less digitally inclined. On February 28, after four months of reading and celebrating local authors and publishers, a gala event was held in St. John’s at the AC Hunter Library. The event was live-streamed on Facebook and shown at local libraries across the province. When all the votes were counted, Trudy Morgan-Cole’s Most Anything You Please was declared the winner. A family saga spanning three generations, the book follows the Holloway family, owners of a small corner store in Rabbittown on the outskirts of St. John’s.

Illustration by Minami Umezu

HOOPLA hoopla is a new digital media service on offer at Halifax Public Libraries, with a range of digital content available for download. Anyone with a Halifax Public Libraries card can login and access e-books, audiobooks, graphic novels, music, movies and television shows. Each member can download up to five titles per month and they are available immediately. That means no waiting lines.

Crow Amy Spurway Goose Lane Editions

Afraid of the Dark Guyleigh Johnson Pottersfield Press

Louisburg or Bust RC Shaw Pottersfield Press

hoopla is offered at public libraries across Canada and has a solid selection of local titles, both old favourites and new additions. Recent releases include Steve Vernon’s Where the Ghost Are: A Guide to Nova Scotia’s Spookiest Places. Users can learn about the UFO sighting in Shag Harbour and the Ghost of Haddon Hall. The book includes all the maps, addresses and GPS coordinates readers need to find the ghosts themselves. It’s even easier if they download the book to their phones. Also available on hoopla is Cod Only Knows by Hilary MacLeod. Set in a small village on Prince Edward Island, this is the mystery of 90-year-old Abel Mack, who went fishing and is now missing. This is the sixth book in the popular Shores Mystery series. The entire series is available to download on hoopla. #IREADLOCAL Here in Atlantic Canada, we’re always proud to say #IReadLocal. Readers are benefiting as libraries find new and creative ways to promote and share local titles. Whether readers prefer their books digitally or in print, it’s never been easier to borrow a library book. Partnerships between libraries and local publishers are using technology in clever ways to connect readers with local authors and books. With so many quality books being written and published locally, tech savvy libraries are helping to keep readers more informed and better connected than ever before. ■ Sarah Weaver is the adult collection development librarian for Halifax Public Libraries.

Most Anything You Please Trudy Morgan-Cole Breakwater Books

Where the Ghosts Are Steve Vernon Nimbus Publishing

Cod Only Knows Hilary MacLeod Acorn Press Atlantic Books Today

15


SEEING

is RE-LIVING

How Photography & WordCraft Shape Experience

by Ray Cronin

Is a picture really worth a thousand words? I suppose it depends on the picture. Photographs, the American critic Susan Sontag wrote, “alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at.” Our notions, of course, have been undergoing alteration and enlargement since the dawn of photography, back in 1839. Certainly, no living human predates the first photographs. As we judge the world by ourselves, that makes the photographic image as good as eternal. But as the reams and reams of essays and books on the nature of photography will attest, just what photographs are and do is always open for discussion. That may seem overly philosophical, I suppose, just thinking for the sake of thinking, as boring as one of those interminable 1970s guitar solos. After all, photographs are just pictures, we all know that, and we all know what they do. Right? Well, I’m not so sure we do. Photographs do so many different things. Photographs show us the past, they document the present, they record brief moments of our lives (sometimes it seems that is mostly what they do), they illustrate geologic time. They inform and they obfuscate. They clarify and they distort. They tell the truth and they lie, often at the same time. Here is a person, a picture tells us, presented as they were seconds ago, or decades past. They hold out the promise of reliving our past, yet how they deliver that promise is so often bittersweet. Is a picture worth a thousand words? Can a thousand pictures tell as much as one word? You will not be surprised when I say: yes. And no.

TOP: Northern Light

16

LEFT: Eastport

atlanticbookstoday.ca

MIDDLE: Wildflower Whispers

RIGHT: Anthropocene


F E AT U R E

THE FORTHCOMING

photographer’s journey through European Battlefields by Justine MacDonald. A chronicle of her 180th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY OF PHOTOS & BOOKS visits to the major European battlefields of the First and Second World Wars, the book Books and photographs have been combined for as acts both as a history and a travelogue. long as photographs have existed, when loose images were gathThe accompanying texts tell capsule histories of each site, while ered together in albums and even our digital versions retain that the photographs show them as they are today. MacDonald also word. First paired as early as 1840, books were an ideal means to tells personal anecdotes throughout, which serve to personalize collect and disseminate photographs. what otherwise might seem too much like a travel brochure. The One of the first collections, Excursions daguerriennes, featured book is full of images and succeeds in making the reader wish to landscapes from across the world, presented as copies of follow in the author’s footsteps. daguerreotypes produced by commercial printing techniques Photographs as historical documents are of great use, of course, (often by aquatint engraving). One of the most popular series and serve to enliven histories that might otherwise feel dry. In of landscapes produced this way was by a Canadian, views of Sawbones: Hospitals, Institutions, Medicine and Nursing–Halifax Greece by Pierre Gustave Joly de Lotbinière, whose views of the Regional Municipality: 1749–2018, the images serve to enrich the Acropolis in Athens were taken in 1841. text, just as the images of historic Halifax need the text to inform Photographic books remain staples of the publishing industry, the viewer what they are seeing. here in Canada and in the rest of the world. Just a small sampling As the reader’s eye travels from explanatory text to images and of recent publications with an Atlantic Canadian connection back again, Devonna Edwards’ specific history is given depth and garnered the 10 books considered in this essay. There are, of vitality. Here, indeed, the words are enhanced by the images. course, thousands more published every year. Another history that is well served by the photographs How photographs are used, however, is well illustrated by included is The Killdevil Lodge Experience in Gros Morne National these diverse books. Of the 10, roughly half could be said to use Park by Stewart Payne. This short work chronicles the 60-year photographs as tools—following the documentary stream of the history of Killdevil Lodge, a camp and conference centre run by medium. the Anglican Church. The other half use photographs as art, as objects of contemplaPrimarily illustrated with snapshots gathered from former tion. That split is too easy of course. Art can be documentary, campers, staff and other attendees, the images serve to add for instance, in that the artist/photographer has something to personal touches to the history. Snapshots, of course, are the convey, a message to deliver. And an illustration can be beautiful, primary form of photography for most of us, even if we are especially so in the case of old photographs. too young to remember leaving film for developing at the local The same is true of photographs whose purpose is to spark drug store, and the envelopes of pictures we would get days (or your interest in looking at things for yourself. This is so for many weeks) later. As a local history, as a spiritual memoir and as a of the photographs in 50 Things to See on the Moon, by John A reflection of a community, this book is well served by the images Read. This engaging book is designed to aid the first-time starincluded. Payne has also collected anecdotes from former staff gazer in studying the moon. and campers, which serve to further illustrate what the photoLaid out following the phases of the moon from new to full, it graphs tell. is broken into the 14 days that the sequence takes, with suggesSince its earliest days, photography has been both a commertions on what to look for each night. The images of the moon cial and an artistic enterprise. The most ubiquitous way for are shown in three formats: as seen with binoculars, with a people to buy photographs was the picture postcard, a staple of Newtonian telescope and with a refractor telescope. the tourist experience. From 1904 until 1914, Haligonian WE Each version gets progressively more detailed, from the binocHebb produced a series of picture postcards, mostly of Halifax ulars to the refractor. In addition to the photographs as guides, and area, but also of other parts of Atlantic Canada. the book is full of images drawn from the history of the moon Hebb ran a bookstore and stationary store in Halifax until his landing missions, as well as other images designed to aid the death in 1926. His grandson, Dr. Alan R Hebb, found one of his budding astronomer. grandfather’s postcards by chance in 1976, sparking a lifelong Despite the prosaic nature of many of the images, their beauty interest in postcard collecting. The W.E. Hebb Picture Postcard is compelling and will set many leafing through the book whether Handbook 1904-1914 also includes a biography of the author’s or not they intend to take their binoculars outside. grandfather, as well as the obituaries of WE Hebb that ran on Another book designed to get the reader/viewer interhis death. Aerial scan of Africville. ested in doing something is Remembrance Road: A Canadian

Atlantic Books Today

17


THE OTHER END OF THE LENS

Photographs then, deliver information. That’s obvious, I suppose, but not always the intention of the person using the photographs in their book. In her new book, gardening expert Denise Adams is using photographs as objects of contemplation. The Little Book of Wildflower Whispers pairs up-close photographs of native wildflowers with short phrases and statements, creating a book of hours from the point of view of the flowers themselves. Beauty is the goal of this little compendium, a book intended to be returned to again and again. Prince Edward Island photographer Dave Brosha looks at the world from the other end of the lens, with his expansive landscape photographs of the north. In Northern Light: The Arctic and Subarctic Photographs of Dave Brosha, the text definitely takes second place to the images. The introductory texts provide a context for the images and allow the photographer to explain his fascination for the north. But this book is about the images, lush full-colour photographs that strive to dispel our illusions about the high north being barren and stark. While he looks at the whole circumpolar area, it is the photographs of Labrador that most caught my interest. This series, completed in the new Torngat Mountains National Park, are mostly quite stunning, showing a strong sense of drama and an eye for the telling detail. The newest project by noted Canadian photographer Ed Burtynsky, and published by Fredericton’s Goose Lane Editions, uses photographs as both art and document. His third collaboration with filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicolas de Pencier, Anthropocene, documents the way that human activity is altering the very shape of our planet.

50 Things to See on the Moon John A Read Formac Publishing

18

atlanticbookstoday.ca

Remembrance Road Justine MacDonald SSP Publications

Anthropocene

Photographs are uniquely suited to carry this kind of imperative message, which is why they are so ubiquitous in the worlds of propaganda and advertising. Featuring Burtynsky’s stunning aerial photographs and stills from the films made to accompany the exhibition of the same name, this book is an impressive amalgam of beauty and horror, truly an illustration of the power of the sublime. Whether featuring an enormous open pit coal mine in Germany, garbage piles in Africa or the mining and other resource extraction industries around the world, the images are compelling and sobering. This is not a book for contemplation so much as a passionate call to action. Burtynsky and his co-authors travelled the world

Sawbones Devonna Edwards New World Publishing

The Killdevil Lodge Experience Stewart Payne Flanker Press

The W.E. Hebb Picture Postcard Handbook Dr. Alan Hebb Alan R Hebb


F E AT U R E

to get the images collected in this book, and in the process have created a project that one can’t look away from—we are remaking the world in our own image, we learn, and it is not a comforting thought. Photographs are uniquely suited to carry this kind of imperative message, which is why they are so ubiquitous in the worlds of propaganda and advertising. Burtynsky, Baichwal and de Pencier’s project is neither, of course, but their intelligent repurposing of the tropes and conventions of both make this ambitious project all the more successful. With thoughtful texts by curators and historians, as well as by each of the three artists, Anthropocene is a remarkable example of the photographic art book. In Eastport our region’s most celebrated photographer, New Brunswick’s Thaddeus Holownia, looks at the human impact on a smaller scale—that of a single, small community. Joined with introductory texts by architect and curator John Leroux, Eastport is a large format book, beautifully produced by Holownia’s own Anchorage Press, that

The Little Book of Wildflower Whispers Denise Adams Nimbus Publishing

Anthropocene Ed Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal, Nicolas de Pencier Goose Lane Editions

Northern Light Dave Brosha RMB Books

Lightfield Peter Sanger Gaspereau Press

Eastport Thaddeus Holownia, John Leroux Anchorage Press

Trash-talking. Blood-letting. Apocalyptic dreams.

#DiscoverOurBooks #DiscoverGooseLane

Atlantic Books Today

19


F E AT U R E

F E AT U R E

25 Years in books!

Northern Light

Phone: 709.739.4477 Toll-free: 1.866.739.4420

www.flankerpress.com

features black and white images of the buildings and landscape of Eastport, Maine, a former sardine industry hub that is becoming a centre for artistic and cultural tourism. Holownia’s gift is capturing the essence of a place or thing in the simplest manner possible. Given his subject matter, the weathered architecture of this New England gem, the work brings to mind the work of photographic pioneer Paul Strand, but the images still have that signature Holownia touch. There are no filters, technical wizardry or post-production creation of effects. These are very simple, straightforward images, reliant on light and film and the strange alchemy between eye and place. This book is a pleasure to leaf through and Leroux’s straightforward explanatory texts put just enough context on the work to make Eastport, the place and the state of mind, come to life. The last book in this group of photography publications doesn’t actually have any photographs in it. Peter Sanger’s Lightfield is a beautiful little book that explores the work of his friend and frequent collaborator, Thaddeus Holownia. Holownia usually works in series and Sanger takes us on a journey through each one, providing new insight into Holownia’s oeuvre. In a journey that is not so much chronological as biographical, Sanger addresses how each series evolved and affected the ones that came after, and how echoes of the previous series crop up over time. Sanger is a poet and his language, even in this prose, has a poet’s reliance on the wholeness of words, on their depth of meaning, which suits their subject. With its broad scope of art history and the natural and cultural history of Holownia’s (and Sanger’s) home ground, Lightfield is a pleasure to read. So, to return to the question: Is a picture worth a thousand words? Perhaps the answer depends as much on the words as it does on the picture. And perhaps, like so many of the questions we keep asking, there isn’t any one answer. The pleasure is in the asking, in the reading and in the looking. ■ Ray Cronin is a senior arts professional with more than 25 years’ experience in multiple aspects of museums and creative industries. Most recently the CEO of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Cronin led that institution for seven years.

20

atlanticbookstoday.ca


F E AT U R E

From the

Dining Room Table to Paradise Flanker Press Has Been Publishing Newfoundland Writers and Stories for 25 Years by Denise Flint

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

That’s what Garry Cranford did 25 years ago when the four existing Newfoundland publishers he approached didn’t want the book he’d spent months working on. With a project he believed in—a history of the schooner Norma & Gladys— and a previous book already published, he decided he knew enough to go the self-publishing route. That worked out so well, ringing up enough sales to call for a second printing, he decided to keep going. He took a year’s leave of absence from his job with the provincial government to concentrate on one particular project. He still speaks with enthusiasm about that venture, in which he was commissioned by the Seniors Research Centre to travel around the province interviewing seniors, from trappers to midwives, about their lives. When the book that resulted was finished, he returned to his day job and dreamed about starting his own publishing company after he retired. That retirement came a little sooner than expected. A few months after returning to the daily grind, he learned that the government wanted to downsize and was looking for volunteers to take a buyout. After 23 years on the job, Cranford decided the time was right to change careers. With his package and EI, he figured he had two years to make a go of it. Cranford hired his son, Jerry, who had recently completed a printing and design program, and Flanker Press, named for the bright spark or embers of a fire called a flanker in Newfoundland, was born. Garry and his wife Margo’s living room served as the office and the warehouse was the dining room.

Atlantic Books Today

21


www.newworldpublishing.com 1-877-211-3334; in fine bookstores

Sawbones: Hospitals, Institutions, Medicine and Nursing: ISBN 9781895814521: $27.50 Devonna Edwards: 2018 Nova Scotia BestSeller: 224 pp, 230 photos. Amazing story of Medicine and Hospitals (1749-2018). Includes: temporary hospitals of Halifax Explosion. WWIII hospital ships; diseases: old and new; evolution of hospitals, historic cemeteries & medicine/nursing through 3 centuries: 10 x 8 Coffee Table book.

F E AT U R E

A Toot in the Tub Nicolette Little and Tara Fleming Flanker Press

PRE-RELEASE (May, 2019)

TheGambiaSaga – by BurrisDevanneyISBN 9781895814538– $27.50 – 400 pages: An inspiring story of adventure and achievement, risk an d re si li en c e, luck and learning, covering the 38year relationship between Nova Scotia & the smallest country in continental Africa. Includes involvement of students, faculty from UCCB, SMU, DAL, high schools ... other professionals. Exquiste Destinations: Peter L. McCreath Visit 12 exotic countries and 2 amazing Atlantic provinces to your “bucket list”. Join teacher, entrepreneur, politician, historian/ world traveller PLM on his amazing journeys. Read, enjoy; then book your tickets to fly . . . or drive NS & NL. ISBN 9781895814743 (176 pp, 200 photos/80 colour): $22.50

Summer Fun with your Children!

Read Night at the Gardens together then take your kids to Canada’s unique Halifax Public Gardens. See statues come alive; go on a lively night-time adventure.Unique illustrations: story by teacher Nicole DeLory; illustrator Janet Soley. ISBN9781895814828 $10.95 (8x8; walking maps).

22

atlanticbookstoday.ca

book written by an author not from Newfoundland has to have a local setting. Of course, there are exceptions. A Toot in the Tub, a new children’s story about exactly what you’d guess, was written by an author from Ontario. “We’re experimenting a little,” Garry explains, “but we have a Newfoundland illustrator.” What has changed is how the business operates. They started publishing e-books in 2012, starting with their backlist, and now lead digital sales in the province. The Internet, only a few years older than Flanker itself, has altered almost everything. “We can reach out globally. We can tap into lots of professional organizations to learn what we should be thinking about and what the trends are,” says Garry. And metadata about every book in the catalogue is available to stores and libraries everywhere. The way books are written and produced has been revolutionized as well.

SWEET SILVER ANNIVERSARY Commander Gander goes to Come From Away Dawn Baker Flanker Press

These days Flanker has its own building in Paradise, a bedroom community just outside of St. John’s. With eight offices on the premises and a warehouse not quite as large as the one at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark but just as full of treasure, there’s plenty of room for the nine employees (one of whom is Jerry’s son, Nick, the third generation to join the family business) and the 400 titles Flanker now boasts of having published. Garry explains that the name Flanker was initially used because “We were going to be producing cultural sparks.” That focus hasn’t changed. The company continues to concentrate on regional non-fiction and historical fiction. Any

Flanker is going all out for its silver anniversary. They’ve been publishing an average of 20 books a year, but they’re upping that number by three this year. Jerry is particularly excited about a new biography of enigmatic opera singer Georgina Stirling, a small town girl from Twillingate who soared to the heights of fame only to plummet into alcoholism and despair. To give a unique perspective on Sterling’s life, the book is co-written by an opera singer. They are also looking forward to releasing a memoir by Jane Crosbie, the wife of controversial politician John Crosbie, based on diaries she’s kept all her life. “It goes back to before John was in politics,” says Jerry. “She grilled him every night and then wrote it down in her diary.” Under their Pennywell Books imprint, established in 2004 to publish children’s books and young adult fiction, they’re releasing Commander Gander goes to Come From Away, about the Gander mascot’s


F E AT U R E

“Once we get an author they’re very happy to stay with us. We do over 250 author events a year—readings, signings and launches—and that works out to five per week.”

visit to New York to see the award-winning play. Dawn Baker, an artist who has worn the Commander Gander costume in real life, is the author and illustrator. Garry is also planning on returning to the London and Frankfurt book fairs, which he attended for the first time a few years ago. “We’re jumpstarting our international effort. We’ve released a lot of good books in the last few years and we’re recommitting ourselves to selling international rights. This is the starting point for making contacts.” There’s also talk of resurrecting the Dildo Arts Festival, featuring an entire weekend of readings by Flanker authors. These are all exciting projects, but they don’t deflect from the core tenets of the company. “We heavily invest in our authors,” says Garry. “Once we get an author they’re very happy to stay with us. We do over 250 author events a year—readings, signings and launches—and that works out to five per week.” A quick look at Flankerpress.com shows eight author signings at various places during a single week in March. That’s not unusual. Certainly it seems to be nearly impossible to visit Costco on a Friday afternoon without seeing Garry or Margo sitting at a table happily supporting a signing by everyone from romance writer Victoria Barbour to political pundit Bill Rowe. “You never know what’s going to happen from one day to the next,” says Jerry with evident enthusiasm. “It could be a dynamic new author, a call from a movie studio or a call from an overseas publisher.” For Garry, who started out as a writer himself, the perspective on what makes the job worthwhile is different. “When we do the T5s [income tax slips for royalty earnings] the amount we generate for authors makes me very happy. Every year there are authors blown away be the size of their [royalty] cheques.” That’s a spark to keep Flanker burning. ■ Denise Flint is an AJA-award-winning freelance journalist who anticipates dying in an avalanche of to-be-read books one day and being eaten by her cats. She also writes romance under a pen name.

MORE TO WATCH FOR FROM FLANKER PRESS Grandpa Pike’s Number Two Grandpa Pike “Reading the dozens of tales and musings and sometimes soul-baring anecdotes was like plucking items from a grab-bag — albeit an organized grabbag — and discovering how Number Two can be related to personally.” –Harold Walters, The Packet The Forbidden Dreams of Betsy Elliott Carolyn R Parsons Beautifully written historical fiction featuring a heroine with all the strength and resilience of a Sam Spade. The Promise Ida Linehan Young Young’s second novel focuses once again on a determined young woman in the late 19th century. Mother of the Regiment Susan Chalker Browne Spotlighting the stories of five remarkable women who “pushed boundaries and made a difference” at the dawn of the 20th century. Joseph Kearney and the Hunt for Rommel Frank Galgay with Donna Kearney Adams Biography of Joseph Kearney, who after repeated attempts successfully escaped a POW camp during the Second World War. Atlantic Books Today

23


F E AT U R E

The 10 Best Atlantic Canadian Books Since Atlantic Canada’s 100 Greatest Books by Trevor J Adams

T

en years ago, I had the strange privilege of co-authoring Atlantic Canada’s 100 Greatest Books. My co-author and I, with the enthusiasm of men who do not realize they’ve bitten off far more than is easily chewed, surveyed CanLit insiders and fans. There were 716 responses, nominating 2,048 books. From that, we winnowed a top 100 list. (No Great Mischief was number one, if you don’t have your copy handy). Debate began as soon as our project rolled off the press. Why aren’t there more Newfoundland books? Why didn’t you include my book? What do you guys have against poetry? Anne of Green Gables is number two? Really? And so on. I learned more than I ever thought possible about the wealth of Atlantic Canadian literature. After the book was published and the hubbub was behind me, I thought: “I don’t want to ever read another Atlantic Canadian book and I never want to do that again.” But great Atlantic Canadian books just keep coming. So, 10 years later, I’m again pondering the East Coast’s best books. There is no particular methodology behind this list. I polled a few librarians, teachers, authors and editors (not 716 of them), but these are my subjective, opinionated picks. What strikes me is how a great writing culture has, despite relentless economic pressure and competition from around the globe, gotten greater, with a more diverse array of talents. There are more women and writers of colour in the mix than a decade ago. It’s exciting to see writers who weren’t on my radar (sometimes because they were still in high school) now topping the list. What Boys Like Amy Jones Biblioasis It wasn’t her first book, but with this collection of short stories, many first discovered Halifax’s Amy Jones as an inventive writer, technically proficient and artful. Her characters are authentically flawed, real and knowable. The 15 worlds she creates feel lived in. One senses lives that were going on before the reader joined, continuing after the reader leaves. Generations Re-Merging shalan joudry Gaspereau Press Canada is enjoying an explosion of Indigenous arts unseen since the European settlers arrived here. This list could have easily been about the 10 best Indigenous books of the last decade. Few books reflect that as well as joudry’s debut collection of poetry. Exploring Mi’kmaw heritage, culture and tradition, she offers personal poems speaking to her own experiences and broader, universal issues. “Healing to both author and reader, and an offering for many generations to come,” writes reviewer Shannon Webb-Campbell in Room.

24

atlanticbookstoday.ca

Light Lifting Alexander MacLeod Biblioasis Cape Breton’s Alistair MacLeod (quite legitimately) dominated this discussion a decade ago, so the part of me that likes historical symmetry is pleased to place his son on this list. Yet Alexander MacLeod would belong here even if his father’s name were John Smith. Shortlisted for the 2010 Giller Prize, this short-story collection reveals a writer whose talent exceeds his legacy, rising above the expectations his famous father inevitably created. Raw emotions and vivid personalities dominate. Come, Thou Tortoise Jessica Grant Vintage Canada Debut books seem to keep coming up on this list. (Which is about the most hopeful thing I can imagine for Atlantic Canadian literature). With brisk, breathlessly paced writing, Jessica Grant crafts a quirky world where even the most briefly passing-through characters have something pithy and wise to contribute. In creative-writing programs all over the country, young talents are furrowing their brows, trying to figure out how to write with such creative economy.


F E AT U R E

Indian School Road Chris Benjamin Nimbus Publishing Canadians like to imagine themselves as compassionate and gentle, without the racial strife that periodically roils over our American neighbour. Canada’s post-colonization history is tough to reconcile. Most feign ignorance (“Their lives are so much better now”) or put it in the past tense (“Ancient history.”) With this searing look at the legacy of the residential-school system and its still-resonating consequences, Benjamin makes either escape impossible. Read this book and it’s impossible to deny what our ancestors did, or our obligation to make it right. The Golden Boy Grant Matheson Acorn Press Write personally and honestly and you can’t go far wrong, say writing coaches around the world. With this ruthlessly honest recollection of his life as a drug-addicted doctor, PEI’s Grant Matheson shows the simple wisdom of that advice. He describes how he became hooked, his fall from grace when his addiction led to professional malpractice, his struggles to get clean. It could be the lurid stuff of any number of autobiographies, yet his simple honesty gives readers the chance to understand and see the realities of drug addiction, how its horrors aren’t confined to certain neighbourhoods or economic classes. Hot, Wet and Shaking Kaleigh Trace Invisible Publishing Kaleigh Trace describes herself as a “disabled, queer, feminist sex educator,” which would seem to put her in a category all her own as a writer. Only she doesn’t accept that notion. Instead, she writes a powerful and personal story about her own sexuality, what she’s discovered about herself and other people. National Post reviewer Stacey May Fowles sums up: “It is accessible to anyone who has struggled and faced confusion on the path to pleasure... so basically, everyone.”

Folk Jacob McArthur Mooney McClelland & Stewart As our civilization is ever more atomized from a collective to a gathering of selfinterested individuals, it’s fascinating to see a poet of Jacob McArthur Mooney’s talent explore, with wry humour and tender insights, our evolving idea of community. Most captivating is “Folk 1,” about the crash of Swissair 111, bringing international tragedy to a rural Nova Scotian fishing village. Two decades later, its effects linger in intangible ways, better understood after reading this book. Africville Shauntay Grant Anansi/Groundwood A decade ago when considering Atlantic Canada’s greatest books, we gave books for kids little consideration. It wasn’t deliberate; there were few on our radar, perhaps because we hadn’t seen books like Africville. With warmth and tenderness that makes the heart ache, Grant writes a lyrical homage to a lost community. Aimed at younger readers but captivating to everyone, she makes readers yearn to visit the now razed community. Evoking nostalgia for what we destroyed, she makes it clear why the destruction of Africville remains an open wound. Outskirts Sue Goyette Brick Books While young and emerging writers dominate much of this list, one can’t overlook the ongoing work of long-established talents like Sue Goyette. For more than three decades, she’s been writing poetry and meditations tightly linked to the East Coast and specifically Nova Scotia. “Firmly rooted in Nova Scotia’s natural environment and culture, the poems in Outskirts feel quite at home in my urban prairie setting. As I feel in Gus’s Pub,” says a review in Praire Fire. You’ll find those qualities in any Goyette collection, but if you’re only reading one, this is it. An accomplished artist at the top of her game, helping us discover ourselves and our place. ■ Trevor J Adams is editor of Halifax Magazine, senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and author of Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams that Played for the Stanley Cup. He coauthored Today’s Joe Howe. Atlantic Books Today

25


PROFILE

International Conflict and Social Justice Journalist’s Ghosts Within Garry Leech writes of his PTSD, the result of decades of reporting from Latin American conflict zones by Stephen Kimber

Garry Leech

I

n 1975, British-born Garry Leech moved to Detroit with his engineerfather and family. First, he became a teenaged misfit, then a disgruntled US marine. After being discharged in Panama before he could get into worse trouble, he odd-jobbed across the US, married, split, adventured through Latin America. In Salvador, he witnessed (and was unable to stop) the rape of a female cellmate. He became a conflict-junkie journalist, then a socialist social-activist journalist, spent more than a decade reporting from brutish Colombian conflict zones, wrote books, found new love and eventually settled in Cape Breton with his new partner and their two sons. And then … in November 2016 in Cali, Colombia, where he’d gone to teach a university course on media and conflict, Leech found himself one night in a bar enjoying a local micro-brew. Suddenly, he “burst into tears. The tears came out of nowhere and just flooded down my cheeks. I couldn’t stop them.” Garry Leech had post-traumatic stress disorder. “Everyone’s heard of PTSD,” he says, “but very few people know what it is, how it manifests.

26

atlanticbookstoday.ca


PROFILE

“…if we’re going to truly have a conversation, people need to know what it’s like.” I was one of those people. I’d had symptoms for four years before I realized.” That’s one of the reasons he wrote Ghosts Within: Journeying Through PTSD, a harrowing account of his experiences with (and through) PTSD, its impact on him and his family. He wrote it to help the rest of us better understand this mental illness, but also to help those suffering PTSD “not feel so isolated.” Since Leech himself can still be “triggered watching war movies or reading a newspaper,” he worked with his publisher, Nova Scotia-based Roseway, to italicize and separate from the main text descriptions of most of his own most traumatic experiences so readers can choose how deeply to explore. “The folks at Fernwood were very helpful,” he says, including in broadening his context to include women who have suffered rape or sexual abuse—the largest demographic in North America with PTSD—as well as Indigenous Peoples. Writing the book was never easy. He would realize as drafts emerged that he needed “to go deeper, to reveal more of myself,” unfamiliar territory for a journalist. “People may not like me for some of what’s in the book,” he allows, “but if we’re going to truly have a conversation, people need to know what it’s like.” That said, he says the book was “easier to write than it is to talk about. Writing is just me, alone with my computer…” Mine, in fact, is his first interview about the book, “and I’ve been anxietyridden all morning.” He need not have been. Leech begins a countrywide book tour in Halifax May 29. He wants to use it to start a conversation about PTSD. The best news is that he has begun to come out of his “PTSD shell” in the last six months. “I’ve hit a few spots where I’ve had to step back for a bit, but generally I see myself beginning to re-engage.” Good for him. Good for us. ■ Stephen Kimber is the award-winning author of nine non-fiction books and one novel. He has won five Gold Awards and numerous Silvers from the Atlantic Journalism Awards for magazine writing.

Ghosts Within Garry Leech Roseway Publishing

GARRY LEECH BOOKS Killing Peace Inota “…addresses all aspects of the Colombian conflict, particularly the dangerous and expanding involvement of the United States as part of its drug war—and now the ‘war on terror.’” Crude Interventions Zed Books “…makes evident the connections between energy interests, the war on terror, globalization, human rights abuses and other social injustices…” The People Behind the Coal With Aviva Chomsky and Steve Striffler Casa Editorial Pisando Callos “Since the Cerrejón Mine opened in 1983, its operations and constant expansion have forcibly displaced Indigenous Wayuu and Afro-Colombian communities.” The Failure of Global Capitalism With Terry Gibbs Cape Breton University Press “…uses the examples of Cape Breton and Colombia to illustrate the harsh realities suffered by people in both the global North and the global South under neoliberal globalization.” Beyond Bogotá Beacon Press “…conveys brilliantly and with vivid insight the magical qualities of this rich and tortured land, and the struggles and torment of its people.” –Noam Chomsky The FARC Zed Books “…the definitive introduction to the guerilla group, examining its origins, aims, structures and operations.” Capitalism Zed Books “…addresses a pressing and necessary topic: the nature of contemporary capitalism, and how it inherently generates inequality and structural violence.” How I Became an American Socialist Misfit Books “…vividly describes how his adventures and experiences led him, not only on a geographic odyssey, but also on a path of personal discovery that resulted in him questioning the values and beliefs he grew up with.” Atlantic Books Today

27


FOOD

Cookbooking

Karl

with

by Karl Wells

28

atlanticbookstoday.ca


FOOD

Food Critic Karl Wells Gleans Kitchen (and Life?) Lessons From Two New Cookbooks

T

he other day I watched a couple of episodes of an old BBC series called The Victorian Kitchen. One featured the preparation of a Victorian breakfast and the other, a supper. Victorians favoured meals of volume and variety, but, for the most part, ingredients were easy to source and simply prepared. Breakfast included fried mushrooms, boiled eggs, fried bacon and eggs, toast and grilled lamb kidneys on buttered toast. Supper was chicken soup, boiled ham, beef-tongue (Victorians loved offal) salads and fresh raspberry jelly. Watching The Victorian Kitchen got me thinking about how different things are for home cooks today. Apart from the godsend of electric appliances, an ocean of choice swamps us. It seems every time I visit the supermarket, it’s selling yet another variety of fruit or vegetable, a new flavour, new blend of this or that. The same goes for wine, spirits and beer. I nearly fell over the other day when I saw Crown Royal peach whiskey at the liquor store. (Peach? Since when does whiskey come in ice cream flavours?) As much as I enjoy this bounty (apart from bizarrely flavoured things that make me slightly queasy), there’s a lot to be said for keeping things simple, for enjoying the taste of something the way Mother Nature (or Sam Bronfman) made it. That’s the message I take from two new cookbooks: Agnes Ayre’s Notebook: Recipes from Old St. John’s by Roger Pickavance and Agnes Marion Murphy and East Coast Favourite Fishcakes: Plus baked beans and other great accompaniments, as collected from cookbooks published by Formac Publishing. Agnes Ayre was born in St. John’s during the Victorian era. She had many interests. Cooking wasn’t one of them, but she did keep a notebook during the early 20th century with recipes that appealed to her. The recipes came from various sources, including newspapers and advertising material. Pickavance and Murphy suggest that Mrs. Ayre collected the recipes for her cook to use when preparing meals for the Ayre family. (At that time, it was quite common for the well heeled to employ a cook and one or two servants.) Meatloaf is the final recipe in Agnes Ayre’s Notebook. And it was the first one I wanted to try. Unlike most meatloaf recipes, it called for the meat mixture to be steamed and then baked. I was curious to see what the resulting loaf would be like after two hours of steaming and one hour of baking (to brown it.) Would the effort be worth it? I anticipated that the meatloaf ’s juiciness and texture would differ from a standard loaf baked in a moderate oven for an hour, turning out tender enough to be broken effortlessly with a fork. Mrs. Ayre’s meatloaf was indeed different. It was dense and firm and had developed a very dark exterior. (I’d suggest 30 minutes of browning is enough.) When cut with a sharp knife, each slice boasted a clean, smooth-as-marble surface. It looked more like terrine than meatloaf.

Agnes Ayre’s Notebook: Recipes from Old St. John’s Roger Pickavance and Agnes Marion Murphy Boulder Publications

East Coast Favourite Fishcakes The Formac Cookbook Team Formac Publishing

Atlantic Books Today

29


FOOD

It’s important for home cooks to understand that no recipe is written in stone. Unless tricky chemical reactions are involved, most recipes can be changed.

2019/20 SEASON

SYMPHONY NOVA SCOTIA Ticket packages for our 2019/20 season are on sale now! Order today and join us for spectacular concerts of the music you love.

JEREMY DUTCHER

RENÉE FLEMING

THE CANADIAN BRASS

UPCOMING HIGHLIGHTS:

• Jeremy Dutcher • Natalie MacMaster • The Canadian Brass • Opera Gala with Renée Fleming • Christmas with Heather Rankin • The Nutcracker • The Music of Pink Floyd • A Tribute to Anne Murray • Last Night of the Proms • Beethoven’s “Eroica” • Broadway Tonight! • Mr. and Mrs. Schumann • and so much more!

902.494.3820 • SYMPHONYNOVASCOTIA.CA 30

atlanticbookstoday.ca

Unlike regular meatloaf, Ayre’s loaf could be sliced relatively thinly without difficulty. I tasted it both hot and cold, preferring cold slices. The taste is much improved when served with condiments such as pickles, relish and mustard. Mostly, I enjoyed it in cold sandwiches, on fresh white bread with mustard or mayonnaise. That alone (being a great sandwich filling) made the cooking effort worthwhile. The curious recipe name, Canada’s War Cake, intrigued me. During the First World War, Canadians and pre-confederation Newfoundlanders were encouraged to bake cakes that only contained the few readily available wartime ingredients. Because no eggs or dairy were involved, the cake had the additional quality of lasting longer, meaning it could be shipped overseas to our military personnel. Thankfully, it’s a delicious recipe. I’m quite sure our boys at the front were delighted with this special treat from home. While the cake didn’t contain milk or eggs, enough moisture came from water, raisins and lard. It tasted sweet and spicy and went well with tea and coffee. I brought the cake to a social function where it was served afterward with coffee. Canada’s War Cake received rave reviews. One person even asked for the recipe. I did find the cake to be rather flat, only about two inches high. Next time I’ll try the authors’ height remedy: double the recipe for a taller, more eye appealing result. I tackled another kind of spicy cake when I decided to try Cornmeal Crusted Salmon Cakes from East Coast Favourite Fishcakes. This time, I didn’t follow the recipe to the letter.


FOOD

It’s important for home cooks to understand that no recipe is written in stone. Unless tricky chemical reactions are involved, most recipes can be changed. This was a case of my wanting the herbs and spices on the inside of the salmon cakes, as opposed to covering them. The salmon cakes recipe called for the cake mixture to be salmon, breadcrumbs, green onions, garlic, egg whites and pepper. All accents such as tarragon, cinnamon and cumin were included as part of the cornmeal coating. I instead stirred them into the cake mixture. I wanted those flavours to permeate the flesh of the salmon. You might prefer to follow the recipe as written. I’m simply using my experience as an example of how recipes can be tweaked to appeal to personal taste. Fishcakes taste better when served with a zesty accompaniment. East Coast Favourite Fishcakes provides a dandy recipe, Apricot and Currant Chutney. I’d never made chutney, but this recipe was as easy as they come. You simply place the fruity, nutty ingredients, including a cup of white wine and 1/2 cup of vinegar in a saucepan. Boil, simmer and cool. A bite of salmon cake with soupçon of chutney left no doubt about why the two recipes appeared on the same page. These two were meant to go together. I recommend making the chutney a day ahead. The flavours will be more developed, and it’ll taste twice as good. There was no elaborate dance involved in making any of these recipes, just a modest handful of steps. Often, it’s the simplest dance, the shortest poem, and the easiest recipe that brings the most enjoyment. ■ Karl Wells is an award-winning food writer and restaurant critic for The Telegram in St. John’s, host/producer of One Chef One Critic and a restaurant panellist with enRoute magaine.

Visit atlanticbookstoday.ca for the full recipes.

U N D E R the B R I D G E a novel by

ANNE BISHOP

“This is a Halifax we do not know, of the down and out, the mentally ill, the homeless, of prostitutes and dumpster divers, but also of poverty activists and civil rights lawyers, and most of all, young people quick to mobilize around a cause. Anne Bishop has told a tale of the complex reality of these characters that is also full of hope. Starting out with Lucy under the MacDonald Bridge, sleeping in her clothes, with only an earless cat to keep her warm, I could hardly put the book down.” — Susan Haley, author of Petitot

ROSEWAY PUBLISHING fernwoodpublishing.ca/roseway

Global Afrikan Congress – Nova Scotia Chapter

This book is drawn from the voices of the children who participated in the Book-ina-Day event. In it, they share their hopes and dreams about the global demand for redress, compensation and restitution for the horrors of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Their words address the tragedy and resulting political, social, and economic damage caused to African People by the slave trade, slavery, colonialism, poverty and anti-Black racism.

fernwoodpublishing.ca/roseway

This compelling one-of-a-kind Alphabet Book is suitable for all ages.

Atlantic Books Today

31


YOUNG READERS

Lisa Doucet and Jo-Anne Elder Review Young Reader Adventures in Speaking Mi’kmaw and Louisiana French, Fighting Horse Pirates, Struggling for Workers’ Rights and More

What-Cha Doing? Kim Renton, illustrated by Tamara Thiebaux Heikalo Chocolate River Publishing (Ages 3-8) When Ben ventures outside to investigate some unusual noises, he soon discovers that his grandfather is the source of these sounds. He has been busy drilling holes in the trees for the spiles that will enable the sap to drip into the tubes that will eventually conduct it to the evaporator house. There, Ben’s father boils the sap into maple syrup. Meanwhile, other members of Ben’s family are equally busy. Grandma boils the syrup to make maple butter and his mother wraps the maple cream that his sisters spent a long time stirring. Ben’s sisters also put the hard maple candy into specially made birchbark containers. Everywhere he turns, Ben’s family members are hard at work and there is the warm, mouth-watering scent of

32

atlanticbookstoday.ca

maple, but it’s never quite ready for Ben to try. At last, when Ben’s father has some fresh syrup ready to be sampled, no one knows where to find Ben. It turns out that Ben has decided to do an experiment of his own and now it is everyone else’s turn to wait for him to determine the delicious results. This simple story takes young readers on a journey through the maple syrup making process, outlining how the sap is first collected and then boiled to become syrup, which is then used to make maple butter and cream and candy. As Ben checks in with his various family members, children will see the tremendous amount of work (and waiting!) that it takes to go from the sweet-tasting sap to the delectable maple products that Ben yearns to try. Tamara Thiebaux Heikalo’s gentle and lovely watercolour illustrations depict a close-knit family undertaking what appears to be a time-honoured tradition. She uses loose and sketchy lines with solid black outlines to create cheery images that perfectly capture the small details of daily life in a rural community. My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother, and Me Natalie Meisner, illustrated by Mathilde Cinq-Mars Nimbus Publishing (Ages 4-8) A little boy jubilantly introduces readers to his home by the sea, where the fog is

thick as pea soup, the beach lies just over the hill and if you come for a visit, “don’t bother to knock.” When the sun breaks through the fog, our young protagonist and his family set out for a day of beachcombing. They spy fisherfolk out on the water with their brightly coloured floats and find many different treasures buried in the sand and hidden in the long green grasses. They find feathers, shells, wornsmooth beach glass and other mysterious discoveries. And there are always friends and neighbours who can help explain what each sea gift is. By the end of the day, these two happy siblings have amassed an impressive cache, but they must choose only one to keep. As they ponder their riches and reflect on the day, it doesn’t take them long to realize just what it was that truly made the day special. This lilting and lovely picture book from award-winning playwright Natalie Meisner, who hails from Lockeport, Nova Scotia, is a simple celebration of


YOUNG READERS

the wonders of life in a rural community. Based on the author’s own family’s experience of being warmly welcomed and embraced by the people of this tiny fishing village, this book captures not only the beauty and mysteries of the sea and sand and sky, but also the inestimable value of neighbours and community. In her gentle but lively watercolour illustrations, Mathilde Cinq-Mars skillfully depicts this bi-racial family as the two brothers and their two moms all joyfully embark on their seaside adventure. Her illustrations are softly coloured and filled with energy and motion. They also subtly depict the warmth and camaraderie that the villagers extend to this family. Meisner’s lyrical poetry, with its rhythmic refrain, tells a tale of revelling in the joys of nature’s bounty while also recognizing the less tangible but no less meaningful gift of friends and neighbours that love you like family. This is a heartwarming ode to life in a small town that is a delight to read aloud.

Juji’jk The Tripartite Forum, artwork by Gerald Gloade Nimbus Publishing (Ages 4-8) This lushly illustrated and bilingual guide to the insect life of the Atlantic region provides both the English and

Mi’qmaw names of a vast array of bugs common in this area. It serves not only as a primer on this aspect of the natural world but also as an introduction to the Mi’qmaw language and how it differs from a noun-based language such as English. As a verb-based language, Mi’qmaw words for even the most commonplace items reflect what the item does or some aspect of its being. Each entry in this book gives the creature’s name in Mi’qmaw, the phonetic spelling of the Mi’qmaw word to enable the reader to sound out the pronunciation and a brief dscription of the word’s meaning when it is literally translated. The corresponding English name for each insect is also provided, along with occasional fun facts. A visually appealing volume (in spite of the images that make readers who are less fond of this topic shudder), this book is a highly informative and entertaining welcome to the world of insects and to the Mi’kmaw language. Gerald Gloade’s digital artwork is filled with colour and light. Each page features a close-up image of the chosen insect(s). From the njinikwej (“the one that walks with a thousand legs”) to the awioqikwejk (“crazy bug that swims in circles”) and the puktewit (“little red ball of fire in the sky”), these and many others are proudly displayed herein. It is a unique and interesting way to demonstrate how the Mi’kmaw language works and children will no doubt be delighted to learn the meanings of many of these names. There are also pages at the back to allow readers to make sketches and keep track of their own “notes and observations.” Juji’jk is a book that should inspire curiosity about both the world around us and the Mi’kmaw culture, with its rich and beautiful language.

She Dreams of Sable Island: A Paper Doll Book Briana Corr Scott Nimbus Publishing (Ages 4-8) Snuggled cosily in her bed, a young girl is transported to a very special place in her dreams, a windswept island where “Horses come to greet her / As she stands on mounds of sand / Where nature lives unguarded / Where creatures rule the land.” Here on Sable Island, a remote, crescent-shaped island off the coast of Nova Scotia, our protagonist traverses shifting sand dunes and explores the remains of long-forgotten shipwrecks. She befriends the many seals and horses that make their home there, and she happily spies birds and flowers and shells, a wealth of nature’s treasures in this wildly beautiful setting. Then, when the night is over, “Fog sweeps her back to bed” with her sweet dreams of Sable Island still firmly in her head. This loving, lyrical ode to Sable Island captures the author’s immense awe and respect for this remote and alluring place. In lilting verse, she recreates the rugged, natural beauty of the island and the flora and fauna that are to be found there, creating a wistful, dreamy tone. Her delicately detailed, gently hued watercolour illustrations evoke a strong sense of the mystery and majesty of this

Atlantic Books Today

33


YOUNG READERS

unique environment that feels almost like it exists outside of time. These illustrations are full of light and skillfully capture the many moods of the ocean waters. The book also features information about Sable Island and a two-page spread about its plants and animals, giving young readers a chance to learn more about this unique habitat. Author/illlustrator Briana Corr Scott is well known for her exquisite art and handmade paper doll creations. To add to the book’s immense appeal, it also includes a specially designed paper doll with an assortment of outfits—and a horse!

The Adventurer’s Guide to Treasure (and How to Steal It) Wade Albert White Little, Brown and Company (Ages 8-12) Anne, Penelope and Hiro are looking forward to their first day of classes as students of Saint Lupin’s. They are definitely not expecting (or looking forward to) being invaded by pirates, but that is precisely what happens. Things rapidly go from bad to worse when: the pirate captain inadvertently reactivates a quest; the Wizard’s Council shows up to arrest Anne and her friends for violating Quest Regulations; and,

34

atlanticbookstoday.ca

to evade arrest, the trio are compelled to join the pirate crew and help them complete the quest before bringing the prophecy medallion to their supreme leader, Octo-Horse Pirate. Stealing an ancient artifact from a museum lands them in even more trouble, but then they encounter the dreaded Octo-Horse Pirate and he reveals his terrible intentions. Soon Anne, Penelope, Hiro and the entire pirate crew find themselves battling doppelgangers, dodging angry museum guards (by summoning a terrifying chicken storm) and racing against time to stop Octo-Horse Pirate from bringing down the barrier and destroying the world. Along the way, numerous secrets are revealed, and Anne finally learns the truth about herself and her past. This conclusion to Wade Albert White’s delightfully inventive trilogy is witty, wise and wonderful. As with the previous installments, this book offers readers a smart, sophisticated story that is filled with nonstop action and adventure, surprises at nearly every turn and generous helpings of humour and heart. Anne and her friends are thoroughly winsome protagonists/antagonists, and the supporting cast of characters are captivating and cleverly drawn. The meticulously crafted plot unfolds logically as the story hurtles toward its dramatic and satisfying conclusion. The revelations are believable in the context of all that has come before. While the story features pirates and dragons, wizards and assorted magical creatures, they are uniquely crafted versions thereof that highlight the author’s seemingly limitless creativity. White has created a complex and highly imaginative world that is filled with intriguing heroes and villains. The resulting fantasy adventure flirts with familiar tropes while creating something that is utterly original, fresh and fun.

Papergirl Melinda McCracken with Penelope Jackson Roseway Publishing (Ages 9-12) When Cassie’s older brother Billy comes home with news about a planned general strike, Cassie has a whole host of questions. If all the lower-paid workers go on strike, how will they earn money to feed their families? Billy explains that the only hope that labourers have of improving their working conditions and getting better pay is if they all walk off the job together. At first the strike feels like a holiday of sorts to Cassie. But she soon begins to appreciate the gravity of the situation as the strike drags on and her family, like so many others, runs out of food. Wanting to support the workers, Cassie starts selling copies of the strike bulletin on the street corner. Surely, she thinks, the rich business owners will see that their employees deserve to be paid at least enough to survive. But when a peaceful protest turns ugly, Cassie witnesses firsthand the extremes that those in power are willing to go to in order to protect their own interests. But she also gets to experience the sense of strength and solidarity that comes with standing together to work for justice. Helping to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike, this book helps young readers


YOUNG READERS

of today envision what life was like for injustice. Now, 100 years after these many families at that time. Cassie’s events that took place in Winnipeg, this understanding of the social and political message is every bit as timely, relevant situation of the day matures as she and true. listens to her brother’s passionate explanations and she is inspired by the The Big Dig hard work and determination of the Lisa Harrington Women’s Labour League as they try to Nimbus Publishing provide meals for the striking girls. (Ages 12 & Up) When she meets a boy whose family lives in desperate poverty yet supports Fearing that her father plans to send the wealthy employers, it is an eyeher to band camp for the summer, opening experience that helps her Lucy is shocked and horrified when appreciate how deeply divided people it turns out he has something else in can be. Despite their differences, they mind altogether. Despite her angry become friends … another valuable life protestations, followed by weeks of the lesson for Cassie and readers. silent treatment, Lucy finds herself being Through Cassie’s eyes, readers learn sent to stay with her eclectic great-aunt about this pivotal time in Canadian Josie in the rural village of Cape John, history and the importance of people the small town where her mother grew standing up for themselves and up. Her mother’s death is still a painful supporting one another in the12:45 face PM of Page 1wound for both Lucy and her father. abooks ad_Layout 1 3/18/19

Beautiful books for children of all ages from

Brooding and bored, she is certain that searching for sea glass on the beach will be about as exciting as her summer will get. But things start to look up when she meets her cousin Kit and fellow newcomer Colin, who has also been dragged to Cape John against his will. Colin is furious with his mother, who uprooted her family and moved back to her childhood home without giving any

a

To S e e t he S ta r s by Ja n A n dr ew s

a

W

a A TRADITIONAL NEWFOUNDLAND FOLKTALE

P E G BEA R SKI N a traditional Newfoundland folktale adapted by Andy Jones and Philip Dinn illustrated by Denise Gallagher

~ Trudy Morgan Cole, as told by MRS. ELIZABETH BREWER adapted by PHILIP DINN and ANDY JONES illustrated by DENISE GALLAGHER

with drawings by Tara Br yan

T O S E E TH E ST A R S a young adult novel by Jan Andrews D A N C I N G W I T H DA I SY story by Jan L. Coates illustrations by Josée Bisaillon PAINT THE TOWN PINK by Lori Doody

www.runningthegoat.com

Atlantic Books Today

35


YOUNG READERS

thought to how Colin would feel about leaving his whole life behind. However, Colin’s mother just happened to be Lucy’s mother’s best friend. As Lucy tries to piece together bits and pieces to learn more about her mother’s past, she begins to realize she didn’t really know her mother. Halifax native Lisa Harrington examines families and secrets in this most recent addition to her oeuvre. As in many of her previous works, the author incorporates a mystery element into the story, which provides a focus for Lucy and her newfound friends. But this is a deeply personal mystery that causes Lucy to question everything she thought she knew about her mother. The book features quirky and entertaining characters in great-aunt Josie and Kit, and the friendship that develops between Lucy, Kit and Colin is cleverly depicted. Lucy is a very relatable protagonist whose questions about her mother and frustration with her father’s secrecy are authentically rendered. Harrington ably captures the intensity of emotion that her teen characters experience: both Colin and Lucy’s initial anger and angst as well as the more complex feelings of betrayal that arise as the truth unfolds. However, she also explores the range of emotions that the adults involved experience as well, their uncertainties and fears and their desire to do the right thing even if they simply don’t know what that might be. This is a book that ultimately acknowledges the fragile beauty of families and family ties. Chicken Girl Heather Smith Penguin Random House Canada Teen (Ages 12 & Up) Working part-time at a local restaurant where she stands on the curb dressed in a chicken costume, Poppy is struggling to overcome her disillusionment with people. Although she has always had a positive self-image and a loving

36

atlanticbookstoday.ca

family, including a twin brother who is her closest friend, Poppy recently experienced online humiliation when a photo that she had posted of herself was shared on ISeeFatPeople and she was taunted for her size. Now she can’t stop seeking out stories about acts of cruelty and all of the ugliness in the world. Then six-year-old Miracle turns up and invites Poppy to come visit her and her friends under the Fifth Street bridge. There Poppy finds an eclectic group of individuals who each have their own share of painful life experiences to deal with, including Buck, a mysterious and oftentimes insensitive young man who seems instantly attracted to Poppy. While she starts to see beyond her own pain as she gets to know these new people, her twin brother experiences a violent attack, which leaves Poppy feeling helpless in the face of his suffering. Ultimately, she begins to see that there is goodness and beauty in the world, and in people, alongside the darkness. Heather Smith has created a believable protagonist whose faith in the world has been shaken. The book also features a number of engaging secondary characters who open Poppy’s eyes to people whose suffering is greater than her own and help her develop a more mature worldview that recognizes that people are capable of being both kind and cruel. However, her repeated overlooking of Buck’s deliberate meanness is somewhat baffling, particularly given that she seems

to have a strong sense of self. The fact that she is not wrestling with self-esteem issues because of her size is refreshing, but makes her poor decisions regarding Buck even more disappointing. The other people she meets under the bridge are more likable characters and as Poppy learns more about their life stories (Lewis, the transgender teen who is in the process of transitioning and whose father is dying, as well as Thumper, the older man whose worldly wisdom belies his less-savoury past), she starts to come to terms with some of the ambiguities of life. While Poppy’s relationship with her twin brother is heartwarming, the story surrounding his attack felt forced and unresolved. In the end, this book touches on a few too many issues without doing them justice. Nonetheless it’s thought-provoking read with memorable characters.

To See the Stars Jan Andrews, illustrations by Tara Tidwell Bryan Running the Goat (Ages 13 & Up) Having grown up in a big, boisterous family in a small Newfoundland outport, young Edie Murphy is no stranger to hard work. But when she seizes the opportunity to go to work in St. John’s, she discovers life is no less demanding in the big city, and ultimately finds herself bound for New York City working at


YOUNG READERS

the Global Shirtwaist Factory, living in a dingy Lower East Side tenement building. While she likes the family she lives with and quickly makes friends with girls from the factory, the days are long and working conditions are poor. Edie’s fiery spirit rebels at the injustice of it all and she and her friends don’t hesitate to join the thousands of other women who go on strike to demand better treatment. The things she experiences during this time leave a lasting impression on her, but they still can’t prepare her for the terrible day of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, when she and countless others watch in horror as the upper floors of the building burn with hundreds of workers locked inside. Devastated by the tragedy, Edie must find a way to carry on even though it feels like everything has changed.

B pour bayou. Un abécédaire cadien / A Louisiana Cadien Alphabet Richard Guidry and friends Illustrated by Réjean Roy Bouton d’or Acadie, 2019 After Ah! pour Atlantique, an alphabet book about Acadian life in the Maritimes, Bouton d’or takes us down south to Louisiana. Some of us know a bit about what we call “Cajun” culture (Francophones use the term “Cadien”)

This last offering from beloved and acclaimed author and storyteller Jan Andrews is a poignant and heartfelt tale that beautifully exemplifies all that Jan’s work is most noted for. Edie is an earnest and endearing protagonist with a distinct voice and strength of spirit that shines through on every page. Her journey from rural Newfoundland to New York’s gritty Lower East Side is convincingly portrayed, and her struggles to understand and accept the deplorable working conditions in the garment industry are realistically depicted. Andrews creates a stirring portrait of the time and place and provides a sobering snapshot of life in the tenements and factories. She explores garment labour unions, the strike, the harsh treatment many of the striking women received at the

hands of the police and the profound effects of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Andrews grapples with these topics sensitively and perceptively through Edie, whose worldview is marked by all that she experiences and witnesses. Ultimately a letter from her home helps her to regain her sense of self and persevere even in the face of all that she has seen. Thoughtful, eloquently told and intensely moving, this is a book to be savoured. ■

and know words like “bayou” and “zydeco.” We may have tasted some typical Cadien foods; “gombo” and “jambalaya” are here, and there is a simple recipe for chicken gumbo with roux. This book, however, will also introduce the reader to less familiar vocabulary, spellings and representations of Cadien culture. For instance, “cocodrie” means alligator or crocodile, and the Spanish “crocodillo” influences its pronunciation. B pour bayou presents light-hearted instructions on how to draw a “cocodrie,” reminding the reader to close the cage with a pencil before completing the drawing. Not all the words come out of the light-hearted and sociable traditions we usually associate with Louisiana. The book also includes the story of Katrina, told from the viewpoint of a six year old who experienced it. As Marie Cadieux explains, the resilience and determination of Frenchspeaking Cadiens, like all Katrina’s survivors, are as powerful as a hurricane.

They fill us with hope. New Brunswick artist Réjean Roy’s illustrations in B pour bayou are sophisticated, tempered and intricate on some pages and simple and bold on others. The book is a tribute to the work of “Gros Richard” Guidry, a professor, author, activist and advocate for Cadien and Creole French, who died in 2008. Marie Cadieux, the publisher, provides a short alphabet of her own, describing how she came to publish this celebration of Louisiana French. B pour bayou is a magnificent discovery. ■

Lisa Doucet is the co-manager of Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax. She shares her passion for children’s and young adult books as our young readers editor and book reviewer.

Jo-Anne Elder has translated more than 20 works of poetry, theatre, film, fiction and non-fiction from French to English and has been shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award for translation three times. She and her husband, Aboriginal artist Carlos Gomes, live with their large family in Fredericton.

Atlantic Books Today

37


Reviews

Eva Crocker Reviews Comingof-Age Tale About What It Means to be Part of a Community

Crow Amy Spurway Goose Lane Editions Amy Spurway’s debut novel Crow is about what it means to be born into a notorious family in a small community. The story begins with Stacey Fortune returning from Toronto to rural Cape Breton after having been diagnosed with three inoperable brain tumours. In Cape Breton Stacey is known as Crow, a nickname she earned by stealing a sparkly piece of costume jewellery as a small child. The novel opens with the line, “I come from a long line of lunatics and criminals.” Stacey’s nickname is a reminder that she is marked by her family legacy—even if her theft was an innocent mistake it’s evidence that she comes from stealing stock. It’s a nickname she shed in Toronto

38

atlanticbookstoday.ca

THIS BOOK WAS REVIEWED FROM AN ADVANCE COPY PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.

but back home for the first time in 20 years, she slips easily into her old identity. With death looming over her, she suddenly feels compelled to understand her family history. She sets out to solve a complicated mystery involving a house fire, a land deal gone wrong, fatherless children and a curse. Stacey tells the reader she’s returned to, “...gather the strands of my life together and weave them into some kind of coherent story about who I was and where I came from before it’s too late.” The unravelling of Stacey’s family history involves a lot of characters; many of them are not developed enough to completely invest in their stories. At times this plotline feels like an unnecessary distraction from the more interesting narrative of present-day Stacey navigating her re-integration into her community after spending most of her adult life as a marketing expert in the big city. What is most powerful about Spurway’s novel is her depiction of contemporary Cape Breton and her ability to capture the beauty and frustrations of living in a small place. Almost everyone in Crow’s community goes by a nickname, many of them inspired by a memorable incident or embarrassing moment. It’s a device that reminds that personal history and identity are inextricably intertwined in this narrative. Everyone knows everything about each other and stories (unflattering and otherwise) can cling to people for decades on end, making it difficult to transform oneself. Stacey’s aunt calls at all hours to gleefully report snippets of other people’s misfortune saying things like, “Update! They found that little MacKeigan one, not Squirrel’s daughter, the other one. The one who don’t wear bras ... Face down in the field down behind that skater park with B&E gloves and an empty pill bottle. Tsk tsk tsk”.

These judgemental bits of gossip, told with healthy doses of brash humour, give the reader a sense of the wider community Crow is re-entering. Spurway’s rural Cape Breton is an area affected by crushing economic inequality, struggling to cope with widespread alcohol and drug addiction. She does not shy away from portraying racism, homophobia and transphobia in the small, mostly white fictional community. While she refuses to romanticize rural living, Spurway also conveys the practical ways that people in the community support each other. Crow’s aunt and other characters in the novel enjoy sharing the details of incidents their neighbours might prefer to keep private, however there is a sense that these characters also put enormous energy into caring for the people of their community. When a tragedy occurs, a group of men arrive to shovel the driveway and a representative of the women’s auxiliary committee presents an envelope of cash, a plate of squares and a litre of milk. In Toronto, 38-year-old Stacey worked high up in a company selling overpriced juices made from super foods. When she arrives back in Cape Breton, she initially finds herself consumed by selfpity, sleeping in her childhood bedroom, dressing in clothes from her high school wardrobe and sulkily allowing her overworked mother to feed her and clean up after her. However, as the story progresses she begins to come to terms with what it means to be part of her community as an adult woman. As Stacey begins to see her family and community through adult eyes, she starts taking pride in becoming Crow again. ■ Eva Crocker’s debut short story collection Barrelling Forward was published in 2017. Her work has been published in Riddle Fence, The Overcast and the Cuffer Anthology. She lives in St. John’s.


REVIEWS

Gemma Marr Reviews Stories About the Beautiful Ambiguity of Tension and Struggle

Use Your Imagination! Kris Bertin Nimbus Publishing

One of the greatest successes of Kris Bertin’s Use Your Imagination! is the subtle sensation of impending disaster as the collection unfolds. The possible misfortune that lingers at the edge of each story varies in severity: a guru leads his followers on a dangerous adventure; complicated prisoners negotiate the hierarchy of their incarceration; a sister listens to her brother detail his past misdeeds and deepest secrets. Each story holds the potential for something sinister or sordid and readers will not want to put this collection down. With precise prose and dark wit, Bertin balances the grotesque with the subtly beautiful, the passionate with the mundane and the destructive potential that lies within each person alongside the fragility of loneliness and desire. Bertin does great work of crafting a complex sphere of desired independence

THIS BOOK WAS REVIEWED FROM AN ADVANCE COPY PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.

alongside the need for human interaction. There are no good or bad people here, and their relations are never straightforward. Instead, the stories often leave the reader to reflect on the messiness of life. For example, in the closing piece, “Missy’s Story,” the narrator details various attempts to learn the truth about a strange child taken in by her greatgreat-grandparents in rural Nova Scotia. Her reflections on her family’s role in Missy’s troubled life and eventual death provide the central structure of the plot, but her mind wanders throughout the story. She wonders about the passage of time and the continuation of familial traits, her changing relationship with both her mother and her daughter, and her own role in crafting an unreliable narrative of her family. Though the narrator tells us, “This story is true,” she also notes, “Or, I should say, it’s as true as a story can be...” Confronted with various sources, documents and memories, it is accepted that the stories we believe to be true can branch off, mutate and turn into something unrecognizable, even when “based on something that really, actually happened.” The collection offers a sense of uncanny understanding—not because most readers will see themselves in the pages (though some will), but because we respond to the loneliness, the confusion and the questioning. Throughout the stories, a disparate cast of characters struggle to do the right thing, all while Bertin makes clear that the right thing is always mediated by our own understanding and takes on different forms from different angles and perspectives. Though the stories do have the tendency to be long, there are very few points where the narrative drags. Instead, certain creative decisions slow the reader’s pace and create moments of pause in otherwise smooth (but certainly not simple) storylines. In one piece, belches staccato an interaction between two friends

struggling to say goodbye. In another, letters between a prison warden and a creative writer offer insight into the mind of a violent arsonist. Rather than distractions, these stylistic breaks complement the overarching flow of the collection. Each story plays with similar themes and tones, and certain characters find their way into multiple stories. These passing references are fleeting but important, as the collection does more than offer a set of disconnected but tantalizing tales, instead mapping a multifaceted world of people gravitating in similar circles, spaces and relations. Fans of Bertin’s previous work will be pleased with this collection. Not only do we get the same gritty language and infusion of dark imagery and tone, but Bertin’s writing is more concise and confident. The chirp of teenage boys catcalling girls on the street sits uncomfortably alongside the impending violence of a homemade spear; reflections on terminal illness pair oddly with smashing confectionaries; big and small mingle, pain and pleasure converge, and there are no simple answers or scenarios, because that is too easy. In the best possible way, Bertin makes the reader do the work of pushing through the chaos. With expert precision, Bertin refuses the reader clear conclusions or straightforward answers, instead emphasizing the blurriness of life and forcing readers to sit in their discomfort. Personal progress, betterment or resolution is not the goal here, rather Use Your Imagination! asks the reader to reflect on tension and struggle, and to imagine the beauty in life’s inherent ambiguity. ■ Gemma Marr grew up in rural New Brunswick, but now she lives in Ottawa. She has a BA in Atlantic Canada Studies from Saint Mary’s University, an MA in English Literature from the University of Ottawa and is currently pursuing a PhD at Carleton University. Atlantic Books Today

39


REVIEWS

Corey Redekop Reviews Charmingly Cartoonish Yet Affecting Tale of Childhood Angst

Chicken Rising D Boyd Conundrum Press While the precise quote is somewhat nebulous, an adage long attributed to Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw has it that youth, as both concept and period in time, is wasted on the young. A maxim steeped in nostalgia, it takes as gospel that being a child is an idyllic phase of one’s life, and that if only children themselves could comprehend just how good they have it, they’d cherish every precious moment. D Boyd, I feel, would almost definitely call hogwash on that. Jeezly hogwash at that. The cartoonist understands that childhood, for most adolescents, is far from the blissful paradise adults remember it to be. It’s a natural inclination, the wistful melancholy for a past that never truly was, but as evidenced in her debut graphic memoir Chicken Rising, the author/illustrator won’t disguise her life with rose-coloured glasses just to make readers feel better. Boyd rips away the sepia-tinged nostalgia filter we layer over our memories and the

40

atlanticbookstoday.ca

THIS BOOK WAS REVIEWED FROM AN ADVANCE COPY PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.

result is a delight to behold in all its raw, squirm-inducing sincerity. Chicken Rising charts the emotional development of young child Dawn from preschool through Grade 6. Eschewing a traditional narrative structure, Boyd’s tale takes an episodic approach to Dawn’s life, parcelling out the story in monthly snapshots on conversations and events both minor and major that reveal the years of terror, insecurity, confusion, pain and, yes, happiness that makes up the full existence of a child. The memoir begins in 1970, as Dawn’s parents move the family to Saint John, New Brunswick, to begin a new life as proprietors of The Crispy Dee, a fried chicken restaurant. Clinton and Phyllis are older than most parents—as Phyllis notes, “I still get people telling me what a ‘lovely granddaughter’ I have!”—and this generation gap forms much of the memoir’s tension. Boyd takes great pains to show that parenthood can be as stressful as adolescence and while mother, father and daughter love each other, the overall family dynamic is a reality rife with confusion, squabbles and unintentional cruelty. While not overtly abusive, Dawn’s relationship with her parents is far from smooth. Clinton, who exhibits many moments of good humour, is quick with his temper and even quicker with his wooden spoon. His dialogue often consists of putdowns, impatience—“Bite me armpit,” he mutters more than once—and a genuine love for family, buried beneath the stress of his job and an inability to express emotions beyond anger and contempt. The bond between Phyllis and daughter (the central relationship) is frequently passive-aggressive, exquisitely painful in its honesty. Dawn’s grades are never good enough—“If you can get that close to 100, you can get 100,” Phyllis remarks on Dawn’s earning 99 on a math test—and every career Dawn mentions as a possible interest is quickly shot down as being ridiculous. “I’m only saying this because I love you,” is a phrase that encapsulates

much of Dawn’s home life. School is no better. Her friendships are fleeting and transitory. The unthinking callousness of children often pushes Dawn to her limits, especially as her body develops. Boys become increasingly violent and sadistic and girls form themselves into cliques she cannot join. Adults dismiss her cries as attention-grabbing whinging. Rarely do they take her seriously, leading to an internalization of Dawn’s trauma that threatens to overwhelm at almost every turn. Not to imply that Chicken Rising is at all a slog to read, only that it is unflinching in its portrayal of the brutality of childhood. Boyd’s illustrations are charmingly cartoonish yet affecting; Clinton’s bent, stubby nose is a feature that somehow encapsulates his being and Dawn says more with one sardonically raised eyebrow or tooth-gritted grimace than words could ever achieve. As the years pass, peppered with pop culture references that mark her advancing maturity (Spiderman cartoons to Star Trek to Kojak to Jaws), we witness Dawn slowly forming the sense of self that will keep her sane when events are beyond her control or understanding, as well as the cynical shell that ultimately armours her. There is no definitive conclusion to Chicken Rising; in keeping with its sporadic narrative, it simply comes to a stop in the middle of a conversation (leading, one hopes, to further Boyd memoirs down the line: More Chicken Rising, perhaps, or Chicken Falling). Like the childhood it honours, Boyd’s graphic novel is sad, terrifying, hilarious and joyous, appealing both to adults and young adult readers, especially those who can withstand a curse word or two. ■ Corey Redekop is a Fredericton novelist. His most recent short story, “The Solution,” may be found in the new Frankenstein anthology We Shall Be Monsters (Renaissance Press).


REVIEWS

Stephanie Domet Reviews Women Letting Their Voices Ring From Newly Opened Windows

Deep Water Pearls Edited by Kathleen Hamilton Acorn Press I write this review in the shadow of breaking news of white supremacists murdering almost a hundred Muslims at prayer in New Zealand. You’re reading it in a time of fast change, change that has brought with it a dizzying ability to express ourselves online and communicate around the world, and to hear voices that never seem to rise to the top through traditional media—for better and for worse. It becomes ever more urgent to tune into the voices that can tell us the stories we haven’t had access to. Stories that might offer us some glimmer of understanding of those who aren’t like ourselves, stories that might offer some way to bridge the divide between us, and them, whoever we are, whoever they are. With that in mind, the quality of the stories in Deep Water Pearls: A collection of women’s memoir edited by Kathleen Hamilton almost doesn’t matter. Readers will find essays from 12 contributors, plus Hamilton herself, writing about

THIS BOOK WAS REVIEWED FROM AN ADVANCE COPY PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.

living with and overcoming emotional, physical and sexual abuse, anxiety and depression, crises of faith and confidence, and more. In the main, these are new voices, published in book form for the first time for some, in any form for others, with a few exceptions. This collection grew out of a writing group Hamilton formed and led on PEI. Hamilton, who has written journalism and other non-fiction, plays, poetry and more, writes in the introduction to this book: “In each of the stories and poems in this book, the writer has discovered for herself: what will it mean to connect with my courage, and give voice to my heart?” The reader is the beneficiary of this hard and honest work on the part of these writers. Because the essays, minimemoirs and poems collected here are more than just a window into other lives. They are funny, tragic, affecting, powerful reminders of what it is to be alive, in all its glorious and terrible complexity. Though the quality of the submissions varies, there’s nothing in this volume that doesn’t belong. Of particular note are essays by Heather Seguin, about the pain and confusion of being a physical late bloomer, Alexandra Dixon’s hilarious and heartbreaking exploration of anxiety and fear, and KJ Johnston’s three-part exploration of her complicated relationship with her mother and mental illness. Kathleen Hamilton’s “High Flying Girl,” an excerpt from her memoir-inprogress, haunted me for days with its scenes of the author’s Grade 8 year, its highs and terrible lows. The stand-out essays here, however, are “A Big Stroke” and “A Little Stroke,” by Liza Oliver, twin memoirs of formative childhood experiences of loss, abuse and survival. Oliver’s writing is tense and tidy, and toggles easily between the innocent vocabulary of a pre-teen girl and the more deft hand of a writer with the benefit of many years and many experiences removed from what she’s reflecting on. It never feels contrived and “A Big Stroke” especially is larded with

“She turns narrative corners with ease, leading the reader from a sense-rich remembrance of her early life in the countryside, to outings with her father…” sensory details that bring to life the early years she writes about. At the same time, Oliver holds back some details, ultimately loading her essays with powerful punches. She turns narrative corners with ease, leading the reader from a sense-rich remembrance of her early life in the countryside, to outings with her father to visit family and get ice cream, to a mounting dread that all is not above board with the boarder who lives in her family’s home. Deep Water Pearls is worth a read for these two essays alone, but there is much here to recommend this book. In addition to the memoir writing included here, there are poems, “three things most people don’t know about me” lists from each author and more. This volume allows women’s voices to come to the fore and to tell honest stories of their own experiences—stories and experiences that have, for most of these writers’ lives, been silenced for fear of offending, fear of repercussion, fear of embarrassing oneself or one’s family. How would this world be different if those stories stopped being stifled and were instead said out loud, for all to hear? Throw open the windows, Deep Water Pearls urges, and let those stories out. ■ Stephanie Domet is the author of the novels Homing and Fallsy Downsies, and the former host of CBC’s Atlantic Airwaves and Mainstreet. Atlantic Books Today

41


REVIEWS

John Wall Barger Reviews TimeSpace Auto-BioVerse of Katherine Hughes

Return of the Wild Goose Jane Ledwell Island Studies Press Jane Ledwell’s Return of the Wild Goose records her impassioned search for PEI-born Katherine Hughes (18761925), a powerhouse largely forgotten by history. I was grateful to learn about the multifaceted Hughes: writer, teacher, journalist, archivist, Catholic missionary, Native rights activist and, finally, zealous Irish nationalist. The book is also autobiographical. “I am,” says Ledwell, “as Katherine styled herself, a descendant of ‘Wild Geese’ who departed Ireland under political and economic pressure.” Ledwell has structured her book as a Hughes primer, beginning with a preface discussing her poetic project and Hughes, and a bio of Hughes by Pádraig Ó Siadhail. The poems that follow are alternately present-day, in Ledwell’s voice, and historical, in Hughes’ voice. Epigraphs by Hughes about Ireland (e.g., “She was not then, nor is to this day, a conquered country”) are interspersed throughout. Powerful natural images, particularly

42

atlanticbookstoday.ca

THIS BOOK WAS REVIEWED FROM AN ADVANCE COPY PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.

of water and birds, predominate the poems in Ledwell’s voice. The first poem begins boldly: “Nothing / from the sea / disappears.” But how, we wonder, can this be, when in a literal sense the sea corrodes objects, disappearing them? While we ponder this, the poem introduces Ledwell’s great grandfather, who emigrated to PEI from Ireland: Wind prevailed, tilting whole earth eastward through the night toward the dawn horizon, so for the rest of his life, he mapped his heart on the lost oceans of her breath and furrowed the birthing thighs of red earth. In this image of her ancestor on the “red earth” of PEI, the Atlantic before him, longing for Ireland, the ocean is a connecting force. Objects might literally disappear from it, but poetically the water links—or “remembers”— the multifarious parts of the world, including Hughes and Ledwell, to their homelands. Ledwell questions why we travel at all, what is gained and lost, and who we are when we arrive in a new place: time here is one piece of distance, the wild goose arrived tells us a springtime, feeds naming ceremonies; we celebrate arrival without knowing where the return is from Conflating time and space, Ledwell bridges the gap between herself and Hughes, and herself and her own progenitors. The wild goose, like the immigrant, attains identity upon arrival. Immigrants (and their descendants) are—like exhausted pilgrims, or revenants—windblown, disoriented, with a dynamic sense of home and country. “The lives and writings of women connected to Prince Edward Island,” Ledwell states in her Preface, “have become the touchstone of my writing life; others’ biographies seem to inspire dialogic autobiographies in me.” Nevertheless, the poems written in Hughes’ voice are significantly less riveting, relying on prose-like exposition:

Drawn next to a rawer frontier, I moved to Edmonton / a newspaperwoman, a pioneer in the fourth estate. / Reporting society and the familiar politics / of a young province. This voice, however accurate, sounds arch, distanced, muted. There’s a long and healthy tradition of poetry books about historical figures. Adrian Matejka’s brilliant The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013) centres on Jack Johnson, the first Black heavyweight boxing champion. Matejka allows Johnson to remain mysterious, while also diving into the blood, wounds, guns, bear fights and stark violence of the Jim Crow era. Ledwell’s inquiry into Hughes seems tame by contrast. Unwilling to enter into Hughes’ darkest corners, she sticks to laborious surface context: I was restless for change. Marriage not forthcoming / I travelled next to the knotted centre of London, / to play secretary to the Agent General of Alberta Ledwell does briefly touch on Hughes’ complicated relationships with men and Ireland. But, we ask, why did she not marry? And why oppose women’s suffrage? Ledwell stops far short of revealing the person beneath the legend. Where Matejka makes room for the messiness and fragmentation of a human psychology, Ledwell prefers to scrub her portrait clean, as if speaking of Hughes’ weaknesses, or even delving imaginatively into her possible selves, might turn us against Hughes. But vulnerability makes us love people and vulnerable art provides us with a mirror to see ourselves. Return of the Wild Goose is worth reading for Ledwell’s poems in her own voice. And perhaps, hopefully, the book will help bring well-deserved attention to the dazzling Katherine Hughes. ■ John Wall Barger’s poem, “Smog Mother,” was co-winner of The Malahat Review’s 2017 Long Poem Prize. His fourth book, The Mean Game, is coming out with Palimpsest Press in spring 2019. Visit him at johnwallbarger.com.


Excerpts

Mayann Francis: An Honourable Life The Hon. Mayann Francis Nimbus Publishing Throughout my career, I was frequently the first Black person to perform certain roles. While it was always an honour to break down barriers so others could follow, the pressure of being the first Black in any circumstance was a major challenge. I knew I carried Black men and women on my shoulders. When I was sworn in, I said in my installation speech that I wanted “my appointment to be seen as a sign of hope for anyone who believed they had been oppressed or denied opportunity.” After I was sworn in as lieutenant-governor, I called the first Black lieutenant-governor in Canada, Lincoln Alexander, who served from 1985 to 1991 in Ontario. We had a great conversation and he gave me sage advice. A couple of things he said stayed with me. He told me that when my term ended, I should disappear for a while to give my successor space. He also advised me not to accept invitations where my successor would be. He said I should remember that the premier works for the lieutenant-governor. He apparently told Bob Rae, “You are the premier but I am the lieutenant-governor. In short, I’m your boss.” He told me never to forget this. The three of us—Lincoln Alexander, Michaëlle Jean, and myself—broke the colour barrier for Black people by joining the elite and exclusive club once reserved for white males. To paraphrase Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” “[We are] the dream and the hope of the slave.”

Dangerous Enemy Sympathizers Andrew Theobold Goose Lane Editions Many of the refugees were determined to mark their traditions, and the authorities, unfamiliar with Judaism, adapted reasonably well, meeting requests specific to the High Holidays. Obtaining a shofar—a ram’s horn used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—took some doing, though assistance from the Fredericton Jewish community again made the difference. Even more significantly, on October 10, in the course of a hut inspection, guards discovered 16-year-old Gustav Bauer with concealed bread. Despite generous helpings, food theft was widespread, a consequence of survival mechanisms employed by refugees who had been abused and routinely moved from place to place—who knew when one might be without food, or for how long? As a result of the thefts, the camp authorities had decreed that all mess hall food had to be consumed on those premises, and Bauer was sentenced to a spell in the detention hut. The internees protested, since Bauer’s detention would prevent him from communally observing the Day of Atonement on October 11. The commandant commuted his sentence, and permitted him to attend religious services on Yom Kippur. The camp authorities likewise allowed the building of a sukkah, a temporary hut that serves as a symbolic wilderness shelter during Sukkot, with the abundant local trees and branches; the completed structure covered two hundred people. Heavy snow throughout the holiday week kindled pleasant feelings among the internees, and the Sukkot celebrations are fondly remembered in the camp records and individual reminiscences. Excerpted from “Dangerous Enemy Sympathizers”: Canadian Internment Camp B 1940 – 1945. Copyright © 2019 Andrew Theobald. Reprinted by permission of Goose Lane Editions. Atlantic Books Today

43


EXCERPTS

I Am A Body Of Land Shannon Webb Campbell Introduction by Lee Maracle Book*hug Line by line, stanza by stanza, and poem by poem. I search for the gold standard in her work. The gold standard is a line that is impossibly beautiful and rich with spiritual and intellectual fruit. Dripping with it. It tries to elude me, but finally I find it. It is there. I see it. It is in the line that makes me want to weep. I want to weep for the image, for the moment, for my soul, for Shannon’s, and I know this is what she can do. “I am a body of land.” She can scale these heights. Make her dig around for it, I tell myself. Do not settle for anything less. --Lee Maracle Their World View Is a New Home in an Ancient Land if you think you can hold dominion over flora and fauna, that a body and life can be property, you’d better try buying a constellation. I am not landless, nor law. in sorrow’s aftermath remind me— I am a body of land unlearning what cannot be expressed. Dig to find a physical knowing, ceremony. Our cells remind us, we are living in the intersection of trauma and desire —a disordered state. How can we imagine ourselves not broken? Set vowels and variables. Open to seven generations before and after. —Shannon Webb Campbell

Making a Life: Twenty-five Years of Hooking Rugs Deanne Fitzpatrick Nimbus Publishing I am a woman who lives on seven acres, and I am at home amongst the brush and scrub. It is this place over twenty-five years ago, in fact the very house I live in now, that sent me to the mat in the first place. That old broken-down house with mud showing through the floors told me I needed to make mats. That house, that square of land in a quiet corner of northern Nova Scotia, told me what to do with my life, and I listened. Thank God I listened, for I was young and barely knew what to listen to. There may have been signs all around, I don’t know, but honestly, it seems that was the only one that was ever clear. That bit of land, that house, they spoke to me clearly and said, I need mats for the floor. These days I’m on the lookout for signs, but back then I was just twenty-four and living and not thinking too much. I did not have years of deciding things behind me. I was just twenty-four, and I put a hook in my hand. To think of it now makes me weep. I knew that I would never put that hook down; I belonged to it and it belonged to me. I was blessed right there—anointed with something. I don’t know what, but it made me. It made me whole. It made me good. It made me kinder. Because I had found the thing to which I belonged. As I write this I have a lump in my throat. What if I had not listened? What if I had not known? Who or what would I be without this tool that has shaped my life? I honestly have no idea because it is this making, this thrumming of the mat, which has rounded me out and given me the space to find and be myself.

44

atlanticbookstoday.ca


EXCERPTS

Pipe Dreams Jacques Poitras Viking Canada Irving Oil’s sprawling Saint John refinery and its owner, eighty-two-year-old billionaire Arthur Irving, were the last pieces in the Energy East puzzle. Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s most vivid memory of that day in 2013 was her glimpse of an object floating in the bay a few kilometres from land, a buoy that anchored a pipe running back to storage tanks on the shore. “When you’re standing on that point and you see those storage tanks, and you see those railway tracks that have shipped product from Alberta, and you see that one buoy in the middle of the harbour, where all of the resources that are produced and refined in Canada can be shipped out and make their way across the world—that is very powerful, it is impactful and it’s important for our country.” The Irvings had built it, she said, “because it was a wise investment, and they did it because it was good for Canada.” The buoy that inspired Redford’s ode to nationhood didn’t move Canadian oil to world markets, however. It was an intake tube for Saudi oil, and Venezuelan oil, and Nigerian oil, and whatever other foreign crude Irving could acquire at the best price at a given moment. Supertankers plugged into the pipe to feed imported crude into the refinery. But technical precision wasn’t a consideration when a new national metaphor was taking shape. After a quarter century of national unity crises and hand-wringing over firewalls and eastern bastards, after decades of rhetoric that Canada was destined to surrender to the north–south reality of continentalism and globalization, the country seemed to be getting its east–west act together, returning to its origin story to tie itself together once more with a great feat of engineering. To listen to Redford and [New Brunswick Premier David] Alward, it was a journey both new and familiar, akin to John A Macdonald’s national dream of a cross-country railway. The optimism was infectious. It didn’t—perhaps it couldn’t—last. Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club Megan Gail Coles Anansi Press Olive waits below the sad mural painted in memory of some long ago drowned boy. She can see up and down Duckworth Street from her perch though there’s not much to see this early in the morning. A scattered taxi slogs by carrying fiendish-looking passengers who attempt to discreetly smoke from barely cracked windows. Discretion is a skill they have fallen out with but they don’t know that yet. They still fancy themselves stealth, piling four parka-plied humans into a single toilet stall, scarves dangling beneath the door, telling tails on them all. Volume control is a thing of delusion in the confined spaces they inhabit. It will be years before this is fully realized by those who escape the scene or are thrown into adulthood by overdose or pregnancy. These lucky few will feel overwhelmingly, retroactively embarrassed by their one-time rock star fantasies. Olive can hear them bawling about their supposed betrayals as clouds of tobacco smoke and slurry syllables updraft skyward through the slightly parted window. But Olive forgives them their make-believe follies. They are no better or worse than most of the half well-off, half grown-up humans she has met. They are just flawed and vulnerable to the pitch. Olive is no different. She has chased the white dragon into smoky rooms where grad students complained about unkindly thesis feedback while wearing thousand dollar watches. A holiday-tanned winter wrist, a baggie held aloft, another Volvo fob serving key bumps round the ring. Under such circumstances, Olive is for the most part silent. She can pass for one of them until she releases language into the world. Excerpted from Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club copyright © 2019 by Megan Gail Coles. Reproduced with permission from House of Anansi Press. Atlantic Books Today

45


NEW BOOKS

Editor’s Picks 36 Atlantic Canadian books that are generating buzz this season POETRY New Brunswick Shane Neilson Biblioasis In Neilson’s “Timeline Legend,” he says of the year 1635: “We hunt our quarry in dialects.” Never has so much been said in so few words about colonial Canadian history. But he keeps going like that for five pages, astounding at every line, astonishing for 500 years. His personal/topographical/biographical verses are as engaging. New Brunswick needs these poems. Our Latest in Folktales Matthew Gwathmey Brick Books This is the Fredericton poet’s debut collection but he’s had work in distinguished Canadian journals like Grain and Prairie Fire. His poems are a rare mix of playful absurdity and sturdy, complex form. Were this a performance, casting the global, intergalactic and magical array of characters would be its own carnival. The High Line Scavenger Hunt Lucas Crawford University of Calgary Press Rural Nova Scotian (and now associate professor of English lit at UNB) Lucas Crawford’s second collection deals with competing reclamations manifest in a disused Manhattan train track, which became the unofficial gateway to a “Queer and racialized youth vogue” and

46

atlanticbookstoday.ca

early transgender community. High Line is now a celebrated greenspace. Bec & Call Jenna Lyn Albert Nightwood Editions BC poet Laisha Rosnau calls Jenna Lyn Albert’s debut “Acadian steampunk rhythm—unable to use its inside voice.” Or perhaps, determined not to. It’s kick-arse poetry, “throwing enough shade to eclipse Jupiter’s moons,” as the poet herself says in the title composition. And yet she writes with honest vulnerability: “If all else fails, scream.” Margin of Interest Shane Neilson The Porcupine’s Quill “This place is too various and diverse to conform to your expectation,” Neilson writes in his collection of essays on poetry of the Maritimes, before diving into complex explorations of theme and poems by Mi’kmaw writers, young poets, lesser-known greats and famous masters, considering identity, power and representation. HISTORY Dis/Consent KelleyAnne Malinen Fernwood Publishing The ongoing calling out of abusive men has signalled a cultural shift in gender attitudes, but the mission to end their abuse is unfinished. These essayists (including Haligonians El Jones, Sherry Pictou and Ardath Whynacht)

argue consent-and-sexual-violence conversations ignore deeper, intertwining roots of racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and colonialism. The Peddlers Blain Henshaw Pottersfield Press Long before call centres or even natural-gas extraction schemes, North American entrepreneurial types humped their wares door-to-door. Nova Scotians like Alfred C Fuller, the Fuller Brush Man, were major influencers in this business practice. Henshaw takes us on the road with the rise of household brands including Buckley’s medicine. Birchtown and the Black Loyalist Experience Stephen Davidson Formac In partnership with the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Birchtown, Nova Scotia, educator and historian Stephen Davidson shares through narrative and more than 150 colour photographs the history of Birchtown and its people, within the larger context of the Black Loyalists. 18 Souls Rod Etheridge Boulder Books Etheridge, a veteran CBC broadcast journalist, shares the story of a 2009 helicopter crash off the coast of Newfoundland. The chopper was en route to oil production platforms when it


NEW BOOKS

took 17 people to their deaths with only one survivor. The book’s power lies in the personal accounts of families and friends of those who died.

from his eight days in Nova Scotia, after having spent three months in Labrador working toward his multivolume The Birds of America.

Flax Americana Joshua MacFadyen McGill-Queen’s University Press UPEI prof Joshua MacFadyen makes flax fun. How? Like other good historical writers, he understands that materials—and their relative popularity—represent human stories and significant cultural and economic change over time. With expert use of dynamic visuals, MacFadyen shows how a commodity shaped the modern world.

The Legend of Gladee’s Canteen David Mossman Pottersfield Press Gladee’s canteen on Hirtle Beach near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia was long considered one of Canada’s best places to eat. Oceans of Rum author David Mossman is in fine form here, drawing on oral history to recreate a cultural icon that withstood 40 years of exposure to coastal conditions and the whims of an unpredictable economy.

Violence, Order and Unrest Edited by Mancke, Bannister, McKim & See University of Toronto Press Mancke, Bannister, A University of New McKim & See Brunswick research chair in Atlantic Canada studies and a Dalhousie Canadian Studies prof worked to examine Indigenous and colonial experiences across northern North America. It’s not surprising that British authority was established here through violence, but interpreting the origin of Canada through this lens provides a fresh and necessary perspective.

Haven in the Heart of Halifax Peter Twohig Pottersfield Press Saint Mary’s history prof Peter Twohig’s Illustrated History of the Public Gardens takes us on a lungcleansing stroll through nearly 200 years of botanical life at this iconic 6.5-ha downtown greenscape. The space has remained remarkably consistent thanks to the vision of the garden’s original superintendent. Just remember: don’t feed the ducks.

VIOLENCE, ORDER AND UNREST

GREAT OUTDOORS Audubon in Nova Scotia Eric L Mills Gaspereau Press Dalhousie professor emeritus Eric L Mills introduces and annotates these journal entries from North American history’s most famous ornithologist, John James Audubon,

Great Trees of New Brunswick, 2nd Edition David Palmer & Tracy Glynn Goose Lane Editions Thirty-two years after the first edition, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick with David Palmer accepted stories and photos of the province’s great trees—there are five billion to choose from—because, as Palmer says, “Everybody has some kind of

relationship with a tree.” All 32 native New Brunswick species are included. Where to Cycle in Nova Scotia Adam Barnett Nimbus Publishing Let Bicycle Nova Scotia’s Adam Barnett be your guide to thousands of kilometres of bike trails from the Acadian shores to the Cape Breton Highlands and all the valleys and urban jungles between. Barnett’s guidebook is a compact and portable size, has excellent trail maps and a full-colour foldout map. Ride on! East Coast Seabirds Jeffrey C Domm Formac Wildlife illustrator Jeffrey Domm’s East Coast Seabirds is a must for local birders and visiting twitchers. The concise pages pack a visual punch, unsurprising given Domm’s background illustrating guides for Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Pages are filled with detailed descriptions, an observation calendar, flying and feeding patterns and maps with observation locations. Stouts, Millers, and Forky-Tails Chapman, Dixon, Parsons & Whitney Boulder Books A guidebook and much more, Stouts, Millers, and ForkyTails gives the lowdown on the science, folktales and lore surrounding more than 200 crawlers and fliers. The book, with its stunning full-colour images, is something of a terrestrial, entomological version of Claire Nouvian’s otherworldly The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss.

Atlantic Books Today

47


NEW BOOKS

MUSIC & FOLKLORE A Stone for Andrew Dunphy Ronald Caplan Breton Books Based on old taped interviews with locals who knew the poet, A Stone for Andrew Dunphy sheds light on the man who wrote, “In the fancy I can see her yet / And feel her hand on me / As when she’d come and stand beside / Or climb upon my knee” about a child who’d died of sickness. The Music of Our Burnished Axes Kelly & Forsyth ISER Books A key piece of Newfoundland and Labrador culture is preserved in these 76 work songs sung in the 20th century by woods workers in their camps, and the accompanying 70 archival photos. For any of you subbers who haven’t peeled and yarded pulpwood, the glossary will come in handy. Where the Ghosts Are Steve Vernon Nimbus Publishing Vernon has a gift for light-hearted narrative that hints at a possible darkness without taking anything too seriously. The specific locations let you follow his lead to 50 haunts of “the spooky, bizarre and unexplained.” For the most literary, consider seeking out Oscar Wilde’s ghost in a lesser-known Halifax hotel. FICTION The Waiting Hours Shandi Mitchell Viking Canada A nurse, a police officer and a 9-1-1

48

atlanticbookstoday.ca

operator are the foci of three narrative threads in Mitchell’s hotly anticipated second novel. Tension builds in the form of a mounting heatwave and fastapproaching disaster, its potential destructive energy and the tension between being a person with a heroic job … and just being a person. An Exile’s Perfect Letter Larry Mathews Breakwater Books Memorial prof Larry Mathews is a Newfoundland secret—it’s time everybody caught on. He’s been compared to Lisa Moore and Michael Winter. Halifax novelist Ian Colford praises his latest as a “wryly observant and animated narrative that gleefully skewers academia and takes sly pokes at the cultural tensions between Newfoundland and mainland Canada.” Soldier Boy Glen Carter Flanker Press Diana Doody is stunned by the remarkable resemblance of a young guest at her bed and breakfast to her own son, who died in the Gulf War. A mystery begins to unravel. This authentically detailed work takes us through the underground of Las Vegas and horrific battlegrounds of faraway war, with surprises at every turn. Even Weirder Than Before Susie Taylor Breakwater Books Before publishing a novel, Grace Harbour’s Susie Taylor won the NLCU Fresh Fish Award for emerging writers, Riddle Fence’s Leaside Fiction Prize and

Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters awards. Even Weirder Than Before takes us through Daisy’s sexual awakenings and calamitous familial interactions. Taylor nails the dynamics of family and friends as we come of age. The Art of Being Lewis Daniel Goodwin Cormorant UNB grad Daniel Goodwin’s second novel features an East Coast architect named Lewis Morton, whose identity—which he so meticulously constructed after fleeing his Jewish childhood in Montreal—begins to unravel when a beloved mentor dies in suspicious circumstances. A literary page-turner with profound insight into the stories we make our own. Vita Susan E Lloy Now Or Never Press Nova Scotia College of Art and Design grad Susan Lloy has a talent for fractured characters who struggle to find where they fit. Here her protagonists are sometimes driven by what seem impulsive choices or actions. Lloy’s stories are surprising yet relatable, giving us all we need to know about her characters in a few short pages. Tell Me More Brad Kelln Insomniac Press What kind of novel could a clinical/ forensic psychologist, special consultant on hostage negotiation and expert on violence and psychopaths write? Halifax’s Brad Kelln gives readers a


NEW BOOKS

thrilling roller coaster of the impossible made manifest: mysteriously floating balls, evil entrepreneurs, a giant and damaged soldier, a top-secret breWakthrough in artificial intelligence. Be amazed. MEMOIR

of losing her child. While helpful to those who grieve, it is absent the preaching sometimes associated with the “self-help” genre. Inglis’ writing is intimate and personal, filled with genuine empathy and compassion.

Louisbourg or Bust RC Shaw Pottersfield Press With RC Shaw’s cycling surfboard vagabondage to the Cape Breton national historical site, it’s the locals he encounters that really sail the story. His colourful and laugh-out-loud funny writing matches these characters. Having said that, his personal journey, sans cellphone (or spandex), in that FrankenRig cycle/surfboard getup, is fairly damn impressive.

Transplanted Allison Watson Nimbus Publishing Allison Watson, raised in New Brunswick but now a resident of Nova Scotia, has written a memoir focused on her 2014 lung-transplant surgery and its aftermath. She was alive, but now had post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder, necessitating intensive chemotherapy. Watson tackles a serious story with humility, gratitude and especially humour.

In Two Voices Clarke & Cusimano Foreword by Dr. Brian Goldman Pottersfield Press Linda Clarke is an expert in narrative medicine who splits her time between Halifax and Toronto. This is her intimate account of her lifesaving surgery, alternated with her surgeon’s responses. Their relationship shifts through time from that of doctor-patient to colleagues and friends. The accompanying build up of mutual trust provides deep, humane and unique insights into sickness and treatment.

My Nova Scotia Home Edited by Vernon Oickle MacIntyre Purcell George Elliott Clarke, Sheldon Currie, Theresa Muise, Jonathan Torrens, Elaine McCluskey, Carol Bruneau, Jan L Coates, Silver Donald Cameron, Daniel Paul, Starr Cunningham, Janice Landry, Lesley Choyce, Ian Colford, Janet Barkhouse, Alice Burdick, Monica Graham and other Nova Scotia luminaries ponder the meaning of home in their respective chosen genres, with the power of their words in common.

Notes for the Everlost Kate Inglis Shambhala Publications The South Shore’s Kate Inglis’ Notes for the Everlost is a powerfully moving memoir and meditation on the grief

ART & CRAFT With These Hands Don MacLean Nimbus Publishing MacLean explores not only traditional

crafts—from Mi’kmaw beading to Cheticamp rug hooking to stained glass to leatherworking to snowshoe making—but also the people who make them, straight from their workshops and homes. The passion of the creators and the photos, taken by MacLean himself, will inspire readers to put hand to plough—or needle, or quill, or… Gerald Ferguson Thinking of Painting Ray Cronin Gaspereau Press Painter and conceptual artist Gerald Ferguson was the spark that transformed the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design into a leading art school in the 70s. He also won the Molson Prize for distinguished contribution to Canadian culture. Cronin takes readers deeper into Ferguson’s understanding of art and his pursuit of “tough” high modernism. PLAY SCRIPT The Philosopher Malcolm Murray Island Studies Press Murray has said that his plays are all “informed by my experience and research as a philosopher.” This one is actually called The Philosopher, and is a satirical look at this ancient academic pursuit in the (often ambivalent) modern world. The titular character is an ineffective party trick, hauled from the basement wearing chains to be ignored.

Atlantic Books Today

49


AFTERWORD

The Atlantic Book Everyone Should READ Six Experts Offer a Book That Deserves All the Love Michael Crummey’s Galore (Penguin) has a teeming richness of history and myth, intertwined landscapes of nature and human imagination and intricately entangled individual needs and social forces. As with other luminous Atlantic Canadian literature rooted firmly in region and era, the novel blossoms for readers beyond our region. Galore transcends its region and timeframe of the late-18th through early-20th centuries. A masterpiece of storytelling, Galore also speaks to our era and heritage, wherever we are: our ambitions and malaise, failures and triumphs, loyalties and rebellions, sorrows and joys. —Richard Lemm is a professor of Canadian and English Literature and Creative Writing at UPEI, and author of several volumes of poetry, the short story collection Shape of Things to Come and editor of two anthologies, Snow Softly Falling and Riptides: New Island Fiction. John Thompson’s Collected Poems & Translations, edited by Peter Sanger (Goose Lane Editions). Eons ago poet Phyllis Webb gave me John Thompson’s book At the Edge of the Chopping There are no Secrets, stark images of axes, crows and iron winds over the Tantramar Marsh. Simple and yet such puzzling power. Thompson found a voice in the Persian ghazal or couplet, in his words, “a chart of the disorderly, drunken and amatory.” Thompson was disorderly, destructive, a drinker. His farmhouse on the marsh burnt, he wrote Stilt Jack’s 38 poems, wrote his will, and then at 38 he was dead. —Mark Jarman is a fiction editor with The Fiddlehead at UNB. His most recent book is Knife Party at the Hotel Europa. He has work forthcoming in The Barcelona Review and the Short Story Advent Calendar. Everyone should read The Hanging of Angelique  by Halifax Poet Laureate Dr. Afua Cooper (Harper Perennial). This is a hard, vitally important read that uses archival research and narrative power to tell the story of Angelique, as well as the history of enslavement of Black peoples in Canada. —Erin Wunker teaches and researches in the field of Canadian literatures at Dalhousie University and is author of the nonfiction essay collection Notes From a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life.

50

atlanticbookstoday.ca

American novelist and short fiction savant Annie Proulx has ties to the Atlantic region through her French-Canadian father. Barkskins (Scribner) is the story of two indentured labourers in 17th-century New France and three centuries of their descendants. The riveting historical family saga explores themes of environmental exploitation and fraught relationships with Indigenous peoples. Proulx consulted extensively with Mi’kmaw scholar, Roger Lewis, of the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, in her research for the book. —Clarissa Hurley is an actor, playwright, director and dramaturge. She has published fiction, reviews, academic essays and a wide range of articles. She is a fiction editor at The Fiddlehead. Diane Tye’s Baking as Biography: A Life Story in Recipes (MQUP) is a wonderful Atlantic Canadian book that shows how much we can learn about 20th-century female identity and agency through the foods that women prepared and served in their families and communities. It is also a loving tribute to the author’s mother, Laurene Tye, whose recipe collection is the focus of the work. While Diane Tye lives and works in NL, the story she tells is rooted in NS, PEI and NS. I’ll never look at a box of well-worn recipe cards or a community cookbook the same way! —Bonnie Morgan is Newfoundland and Labrador Collections librarian with NL Public Libraries. Her forthcoming book Ordinary Saints: Women, Work and  Faith  in Newfoundland (MQUP), is scheduled for publication in Fall 2019.   Each Man’s Son by Hugh MacLennan (Penguin) is the book that got me reading as a kid. That would have to be the one. Even though I’m not from Cape Breton, it reminded me of my mother’s hometown in New Glasgow. It was the first book that I could relate to, bad and good. A warts-and-all—including domestic violence—depiction of Nova Scotia. —Michael de Adder is a nationally recognized political cartoonist and author of eight books including You Might Be From Canada If…, You Might Be From New Brunsick If…, and depictions.


Great Spring Books from Nimbus

FOUND DROWNED By Laurie Glenn Norris 978-1-77108-750-6 Fiction | $22.95

MAKING A LIFE: TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF HOOKING RUGS By Deanne Fitzpatrick 978-1-77108-723-0 Craft/Memoir | $34.95

THE NORTH ATLANTIC RIGHT WHALE: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE By Joann Hamilton-Barry

978-1-77108-748-3 Nature/Environment | $19.95

MAKING IT HOME By Alison DeLory

USE YOUR IMAGINATION! Stories by Kris Bertin

978-1-77108-725-4 Fiction | $24.95

TRANSPLANTED: MY CYSTIC FIBROSIS DOUBLE-LUNG TRANSPLANT STORY by Allison Watson 978-1-77108-717-9 Memoir | $17.95

978-1-77108-752-0 Fiction | $19.95

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT By L. M. Montgomery Edited by Carolyn Strom Collins 978-1-77108-721-6 Fiction/Literary Criticism | $29.95

SEASIDE TREASURES: A GUIDEBOOK FOR LITTLE BEACHCOMBERS Text and Art by Sarah Grindler 978-1-77108-746-9 Children’s Guidebook | $15.95

MAYANN FRANCIS: AN HONOURABLE LIFE By The Hon. Mayann Francis

978-1-77108-713-1 | Memoir | $29.95

MY HOUSE IS A LIGHTHOUSE: STORIES OF LIGHTHOUSES AND THEIR KEEPERS By Christine Welldon 978-1-77108-756-8 Children’s Non-Fiction | $17.95

THE BIG DIG By Lisa Harrington 978-1-77108-754-4 YA Fiction | $16.95

AVAILABLE WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD Follow us online:

@nimbuspub or nimbus.ca

PHANTOM OF FIRE By Shane Peacock

978-1-77108-734-6 Middle-Grade Fiction | $12.95

Profile for Atlantic Books Today

Atlantic Books Today Issue 89 - Spring 2019  

Atlantic Books Today Issue 89 - Spring 2019