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Y R O T CRIME S Rousing a Literary Corpse MARY WALSH
From performer to author page 10
ATLANTIC CANADAâ€™S SEX TRADE
Humanizing sex workers page 32
STORY IS POWER
Questions for settler Canlit page 27 No. 84 Publications Mail Agreement 40038836
NIMBUS HAS THE ATLANTIC REGION COVERED FROM SEA TO SHORE!
25 YEARS OF 22 MINUTES
A BIRD IN EVERY TREE
$29.95 | 978-177108-540-3
$19.95 | 978-177108-502-1 (September)
$21.95 | 978-177108-508-3
A behind-the-scenes oral history of Atlantic Canada’s favourite satirical news show, celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Nova Scotia-themed short stories. “Carol Bruneau is a master.”
THE EFFECTIVE CITIZEN
– Quill & Quire
It’s the little things criminals do that give them away. A gripping contemporary murder mystery set in rural Newfoundland.
EAST COAST CRAFTED
CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS & WHITNEY MORAN
$29.95 | 978-177108-532-8
The bestselling author of What I Learned about Politics is back with an insider’s guide to Canadian politics.
A full-colour narrative guide to Atlantic Canada’s 70+ craft breweries and brewpubs.
Follow us online:
@nimbuspub or nimbus.ca
NOVA SCOTIA AT WAR, 1914-1919
EXPLOSION IN HALIFAX HARBOUR, 1917
$26.95 | 978-177108-523-6
$15.95 | 978-177108-554-0
$17.95 | 978-177108-515-1
An in-depth account of how the First World War affected Nova Scotia and its people.
Newest Stories of Our Past title explores the Halifax Explosion, in time to commemorate its 100th anniversary.
A full-colour non-fiction book for young readers explores the Halifax Explosion from a child’s perspective.
BRIAN DOUGLAS TENNYSON
FROM SEED TO CENTREPIECE
NOVA SCOTIA’S INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE
NOVA SCOTIA AT NIGHT
$29.95 | 978-177108-525-0
$15.95 | 978-177108-517-5
$29.95 | 978-177108-522-9
From one of the East Coast’s foremost flower farmers comes a colourful, narrative guide for growing and celebrating flowers in every season.
Informative guidebook explores 70 of Nova Scotia’s historic industrial sites.
The best-selling author of Then & Now and Wild Nova Scotia explores Nova Scotia’s nocturnal side in this surprising unique photography book.
AMANDA MUIS BROWN
CAROL MCDOUGALL & SHANDA LARAMEE-JONES
THE WALKING BATHROOM
SHAUNTAY GRANT ARTWORK BY ERIN BENNETT BANKS
$9.95 | 978-177108-519-9
$22.95 | 978-177108-556-4
Interactive Baby Steps board book explores parent and child pointing and naming.
A Halloween story about standing out and fitting in, from the award-winning author of Up Home.
THE FLYING SQUIRREL STOWAWAYS MARIJKE SIMONS
$22.95 | 978-177108-550-2
A fun holiday story following flying squirrels who choose the Boston Christmas Tree as their home and are treated to an international adventure.
Contents Number 84 Fall 2017
10 Foreword 8
Think You Know 22 Minutes? Cast members, guests and staff give Angela Mombourquette a candid look behind the scenes of Canada’s favourite satirical news show
Mary Walsh’s Debut Novel a Voice for the Dirt Poor She spoke with us about the transition from Warrior Princess to the pacing, scribbling novelist she always wanted to be Graphically Preserving a Culture and People Emma FitzGerald’s latest is a cultural tour of Nova Scotia’s South Shore for posterity Fall is for Festivals Shauntay Grant, Terry Fallis, Nino Ricci, Wayne Johnston, Katherena Vermette and Sheree Fitch headline a stellar festival season Save the Humans Heartbreaking stories of staggering greed, and its environmental harm
Author to Author Linden MacIntyre tells Stephen Kimber how witnessing real-life horror in Beirut led to fictional mystery in Toronto
Whodunnit And does it even matter anyway? Where mystery meets literary, and not for the first time
Story is Power Questions we need to ask about settler Canlit and how we talk about cultures different from our own
Not in Our Town Atlantic Canada’s sex trade
Standing on the Shoulders of a Giant Poet Alden Nowlan’s large, red-bearded legacy for the not-yet emerged
Old Meets New Contemporary cooking and revisited recipes: it’s all incredibly tasty
Eat Delicious is Everything its Title Not-so-Subtly Suggests
Valerie Mansour's Food History in High Definition
Young Readers 43
Learning About the PEI Mi'kmaq Learning activities for kids reading Minegoo Mniku: the Mi’kmaq Creation Story of Prince Edward Island (Epekewitkewey A’tukwaqn)
Êtes-vous Bilingue? A growing interest in translations of beloved children’s books
Celebrating Canada, Rescuing Lost Animals, Love Experiments, Maud Lewis, Family Ghosts and Unique Halloween Costumes Lisa Doucet reviews the season’s most anticipated books for young readers
Wayne Curtis’ Search for Home
Joey Comeau’s Death in the Digital Age
Alan Doyle’s Spoonful of Sweet Canadian Sugar
Marlene Creates’ Natural Art
Graham Steele's Guide to Wading Through Political Bullshit
Bill Rowe’s Political Grades
Hawley, Hurley and Sackett’s Battle With the Fort Mac Blaze
Whitney Moran and Christopher Reynold’s Beer Passion
Karen Smythe’s Self-Dissection
New Books 62
Editor’s Picks Books so good you’ll read them twice
Stuff About Books Snook’s journey from Corner Boy to publishing more books than his high school principal
H O W T O C O N TA C T U S
Editorial Feedback We welcome your comments. Please send letters to:
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Editor Atlantic Books Today 1484 Carlton Street Halifax, NS B3H 3B7 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Editor’s Message Stories are many things and certainly powerful. Fundamentally, they are representations of reality, even when they aren’t true. As Corey Redekop points out (“Whodunnit and Does it Even Matter Anyway?” page 20), even purely speculative depictions of worlds very different from our own offer realistic insight into the human condition. Orwell’s classic 1984 is a representation of totalitarianism, a too-common reality. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness represents the way we see gender, how that view shapes our values and politics. Murder mysteries, Redekop’s main focus (particularly new novels from Linden MacIntyre, Wayne Johnston and Karen Smythe), represent humanity’s darkest impulses. Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is one of literature’s most famous representations of the criminal’s psychology, regardless of the accuracy of the depiction. We love the telling. As representatives of reality, authors bear serious responsibility. If I write the story of an Indonesian man (which I have), my intent is to tell a good story of a fascinating individual. But in publishing that story I do much more. If you’ve read nothing else of Indonesian men, my (fictional) character (invented inside my
white-man brain) may become the entirety of your knowledge of Indonesian men. As shown by the fallout over (now-resigned) Write editor Hal Niedzviecki’s editorial opining, “anyone, anywhere, should be encouraged to imagine other peoples, other cultures, other identities,” the step from imagination to representation carries immense risk. No one wants to be misrepresented and in this country many have for far too long. Shannon Webb-Campbell, one of the many talented Indigenous writers featured in the same issue of Write, explores (“Story is Power,” page 27, considering new books from Jan Wong, George Elliott Clarke, Sandra L Dodge and Georgina Francis, and Carol Off ) the many questions story’s power should spark among writers and readers, but rarely has in settler Canada. If story represents and shapes our reality, that unquestioning tendency needs to change. Chris Benjamin ERRATUM Last issue in our feature story, “Gerald Squires, Newfoundland’s Artist,” we stated that the lighthouse Squires and his family occupied for 15 years was at a place called Ferry Landing. In fact, the lighthouse was in Ferryland. We apologize for the error.
Revealing portraits of young, black Nova Scotian teens caught up in sex trafficking
Ride or Die Fifteen-year-old Kanika will do anything for her boyfriend – and ends up risking her life Wanda Lauren Taylor 978-1-4594-1249-1 $12.95
The Teen Sex Trade: My Story A no-holds-barred memoir of life in the sex trade by a gifted young writer Jade Brooks 978-1-4595-0499-8 $22.95
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.
RUNAWAY WIVES and ROGUE FEMINISTS The Origins of the Women’s Shelter Movement in Canada by Margo Goodhand; Foreword by Lee Lakeman Margo Goodhand tracks down the “rogue feminists” whose work forged an underground railway for women and children, weaving their stories into an unforgettable history.
F E R N WO O D P U B L I S H I N G critical books for critical thinkers w w w.fernwoodpublishing.ca
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Just Released from Pottersfield Press PUBLISHER Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR and ADVERTISING SALES Carolyn Guy firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Chris Benjamin email@example.com
Daniel Paul Mi’kmaw Elder by Jon Tattrie ISBN 978-1-988286-04-4
www.pottersfieldpress.com book and e-book available from Nimbus and Amazon
ART DIRECTOR Gwen North firstname.lastname@example.org PRODUCTION MANAGER Katie Ingram email@example.com Printed in Canada. This is issue number 84 Fall 2017. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for subscription inquiries. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40038836 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association Atlantic Books Today 1484 Carlton Street Halifax, NS B3H 3B7 Phone: 902-420-0711 Fax: 902-423-4302 atlanticbookstoday.ca @abtmagazine facebook.com/AtlanticBooksToday
A work of historical fiction for readers of all ages.
Lavishly illustrated with the textile art of Portia White Prize winner Laurie Swim. It is the story of one family’s experience during the 1917 Halifax Explosion through the eyes of a child.
Hardcover • 48 pages • Colour throughout • $24.95 • Available at bookstores Order online: www.laurieswim.com • Wholesale: Art Quilt Publishing Lunenburg NS 902.553.0333
Atlantic Books Today
Think You Know 22 Minutes? Cast members, guests and staff give Angela Mombourquette a candid look behind the scenes in a new history of Canada’s favourite satirical news show by Cheri Hanson
ometimes preparation pays off in serendipitous ways. When Angela Mombourquette interviewed for an editorial position at Nimbus Publishing last December, the Halifaxbased writer, journalist (and former editor of Atlantic Books Today) decided she would be wise to bring in a few book ideas. Some quick sleuthing revealed that no one had written in depth about the CBC news comedy show, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, which was quickly approaching a quarter-century on air. Spoiler alert: Mombourquette didn’t get the job, but she did land a book deal with Nimbus. Six months later, she turned in a first draft of 25 Years of 22 Minutes: An Unofficial Oral History of This Hour Has 22 Minutes, which is set for release in mid-November. The book includes unvarnished accounts of cast rivalries, off-air pranks, fast food with prime ministers and satirical moments that influenced the real Canadian news cycle. “I was kind of surprised by how candid some of the people were when they spoke to me,”
says Mombourquette. “They didn’t get into the real dirt, but they were surprisingly honest.” DHX Media––the production company that owns 22 Minutes––ultimately declined to participate in the project, but Mombourquette secured interviews with 27 cast members, guests and staff, including Rick Mercer, Gavin Crawford, Peter Mansbridge, Colin Mochrie and Geri Hall. Earlier in her career, Mombourquette worked in TV production at CBC Halifax, with a stint as floor director and script assistant on 22 Minutes. Former producer Gerald Lunz remembered her and his agreeing to an interview opened an all-important door to Mercer (who is his production and life partner). One standout omission, however, is Mary Walsh, whose red-suited, Harper-kissing Marg Delahunty Warrior Princess arguably provided some of the show’s most memorable moments from 1992–2004. After months of scheduling and negotiations, Walsh declined just before the first interview. “That was a bit heartbreaking,” says Mombourquette. During an interview with Atlantic Books Today for her new novel (page 10), Walsh describes 22 Minutes as a family. “I miss the people a lot,” says Walsh. “They were and are a great group. I was lucky to be a part of it.” She confirms that Mombourquette approached her for an interview, but “Salter Street or DHX Media didn’t want to go forward with it,” she says, “so then, I thought, ‘I don’t, either… I’m going to stay over here with my gang.’” As an award-winning columnist, writer, editor and producer, Mombourquette is no stranger to the rigours of building a narrative, but transforming individual interviews into a book-length “conversation” required serious organization. “I loved it,” she says, laughing. “I have to say. I’m a Virgo.”
Photo of Angela Mombourquette by Moe Green. Photo of Rick Mercer by Jon Sturge, courtesy of Mercer Report.
25 Years of 22 Minutes: An Unofficial Oral History of This Hour Has 22 Minutes Angela Mombourquette Nimbus Publishing
“I was kind of surprised by how candid some of the people were when they spoke to me... they were surprisingly honest.”
After each interview, Mombourquette pulled themes and quotes she could read to the next participant––eventually creating a sense that the entire cast is gathered around a table. When the story began to flow, “sometimes I was so tickled,” she says. “I was literally jumping up and down in my seat––and that’s not something writers get to do very often.” The 25-year milestone was a natural hook, but Mombourquette says she wrote the book to give readers an inside look at the people, characters and moments they’ve come to know intimately through their screens. “I think the show is loved by Canadians,” she says, “and I think everyone enjoys a chance to get behind the scenes and find out what was really going on.” The series also holds a special place in the hearts of Atlantic viewers, says Mombourquette, because the entire original cast and several current members hail from Newfoundland. More importantly, filming in Halifax created a sense of regional ownership. The idea of moving production to Toronto was sometimes floated, she says, but “the producers, I think, felt that it would lose its edge if it was trying to critique the centres of power from the centre of power.” ■
Cheri Hanson is a writer and journalist based in Vancouver. She’s the BC correspondent for Quill & Quire magazine and a freelancer for businesses, creative agencies and major publications. Atlantic Books Today
Mary Walsh’s Debut Novel a Voice for the Dirt Poor She spoke with us about the transition from Warrior Princess to the pacing, scribbling novelist she always wanted to be by Cheri Hanson
t’s tough to imagine Mary Walsh puttering around her house in sweatpants, scribbling notes and drinking coffee from half-empty cups. It’s far easier to envision the actor wielding a sword as Warrior Princess Marg Delahunty or sporting a moustache and leather jacket to play This Hour Has 22 Minutes’ “masculinity correspondent” Dakey Dunn. Most Canadians know the St. John’s-born Walsh as a witty, fearless observer of national politics and culture, but it took a whole lot of pacing and scribbling to take on her favourite role to date: novelist. “I love it,” says Walsh, whose first novel, Crying for the Moon, was released in April. “I can’t believe I’m saying this hoary old thing, but it’s what I’ve wanted to do all my life…When the book came out and I saw it, I just felt such a sense of satisfaction that I’ve never felt in my whole life.” The novel follows 16-year-old Maureen, whose hardscrabble, “sell-your-motherfor-a-bottle-of-beer” adolescence in St. John’s takes a dramatic turn after a choir trip to Expo 67 in Montreal. It’s a wry and heartbreaking story with a distinctive tone, which emerged naturally—Walsh spoke lines of text and dialogue aloud, then wrote each sentence out by hand. She also enlisted her research assistant, Monique Tobin, and former theatre student Jamie Pitt to listen to the workin-progress and offer feedback. “I could see whether Monique’s eyebrows knitted together in quite that way,” says Walsh, “and whether it was just an undigested piece of potato, perhaps, or really was that a terrible, terrible paragraph?” Without their help, Walsh says she might have given up on the book. “I
just thought it was the shits, and they went, ‘No, I can hear Maureen’s voice. Maureen’s voice is so strong and I think about her all the time.’” Decades spent crafting scripts and comedy sketches have given Walsh a keen ear for authentic dialogue. That’s her comfort zone and the writing style she loves to read. Slowly unravelling the plot, however, stretched her literary skills and required a helping hand from her editor, HarperCollins Canada vice-president and executive publisher Iris Tupholme. “My first instinct, as you can probably tell from talking to me,” says Walsh, “is to say everything right off the bat, but it’s a murder mystery as well of a coming-
of-age story. I remember that after the first draft, Iris said, ‘this is great, but we already know who did it and we still have four chapters left in the book.’” Walsh began the novel in 2011, during a self-described dry spell in her TV and film career. She sent 200 pages to her agent, Perry Zimel, who set up a meeting with HarperCollins. When her schedule suddenly picked up, Walsh shelved the project until last February, when she “knuckled down” and finished the manuscript during a two-week residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Now 65, Walsh says age didn’t inoculate her against the first-time novelist’s instinct to mine your own life for material. “Not
Crying for the Moon Mary Walsh HarperCollins
Decades spent crafting scripts and comedy sketches have given Walsh a keen ear for authentic dialogue. That’s her comfort zone and the writing style she loves to read. that Maureen is me or that I ever got knocked up or even went to Expo, for that matter,” says Walsh, “but I grew up on Carter’s Hill and Maureen grew up on Princess Street, so I knew her.” A voracious reader since she was a child, Walsh had always longed to see her own reality on the page. Canadian literature often champions redemptive stories, but “so many people who write fiction in our country are people who grew up middle class. They didn’t grow up dirt poor and feeling like they were worthless, right? There’s very little of that voice in the world and I always wanted to hear that voice, because I knew that voice.” Finding the courage to get it on paper, however, took decades. Fear doesn’t seem like a natural companion for someone who has ambushed prickly mayors and prime ministers alike, campaigned for social change, landed a Governor General’s Lifetime Achievement Award and joined the Order of Canada, but “your outside has very little to do with what’s going on inside,” says Walsh. That natural pre-occupation with our own fears, insecurities, failings and obstacles infuses the book––and inspired the title. We cry out to the moon and it doesn’t care. “We cry out for things we want and don’t have, and fail to notice what we do have.” ■ Cheri Hanson is a writer and journalist based in Vancouver. She’s the BC correspondent for Quill & Quire magazine and a freelancer for businesses, creative agencies and major publications.
Charlie loves his bright red purse! Charlie doesn’t care if people think it’s strange for a little boy to carry a purse. His spunky self-confidence starts to rub off on others. Before long, they realize that being true to yourself is more important than conforming to societal norms. Written by Halifax author Belle DeMont, with brilliant illustrations by Sonja Wimmer, I Love My Purse is a humorous, light-hearted way to open a discussion on gender roles. Ages 4–7 / 978-1-55451-954-5 hardcover
annick press | www.annickpress.com available from your favourite bookstore Atlantic Books Today
Graphically Preserving a Culture and People Emma FitzGerald’s latest is a cultural tour of Nova Scotia’s South Shore for posterity by Bobbi Pike
nyone who spends time in Atlantic Canada will soon realize we have a distinct way of giving directions. There are none of the norths or souths most often associated with getting from here to there. Instead, it’s all, “Go up this road till you gets to where Mr Adams had his boat stored in the grassy field. Course, the boat’s not there anymore it’s out in the bay. We went for a little run around the harbour last week and wouldn’t you know it…” Directions have been forgotten for the time being; a tale is coming your way. But eventually, “well you turn right where Smith’s General store used to be. Lordy, I minds [remember]
the night she [the store] burned down. By the time the old fire truck got here from the station across the bay there was nothing left but fire, ablaze on sticks charred as black as the night itself. Poor old Mrs Smith, well she was…” At this point, you might expect to be delayed for some time. For Atlantic Canadians, our culture is not only about the way in which we speak, or the music we listen to. It’s in the tales and lessons of days gone by. It’s in memories of a colourful people who filled our hearts with joy, as their warm smiles and weathered faces enriched us with their own experiences. It’s in the buildings that were built—every
For Atlantic Canadians, our culture is not only about the way in which we speak, or the music we listen to. It’s in the tales and lessons of days gone by. It’s in the memories of a colourful people who filled our hearts with joy. Sketch by Sketch Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore Emma Fitzgerald Formac Publishing board, nail and slick of paint applied by hand, labours of love more often than not shared by whole communities. Our culture lives on in the losses and achievements of a group of people who take the time to share celebrations and comfort each other in times of sorrow. Sketch by Sketch Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore, written and illustrated by Emma FitzGerald, does a brilliant job of recording that culture for those who will come after us. FitzGerald’s carefully selected snippets in time share her yearlong travel with us: colourful heritage buildings, a rainy day, flowers in a window box, conversations with people who pass by. Part journal, part sketchbook and part historic guidebook, Sketch by Sketch takes us through the ramblings and experiences of an artist; the people she encounters in a day, the places she visits and the things she learns. Through her vivid descriptions, one can almost smell the flowers as they sit on the windowsill and feel the rain on one’s face. It makes me want to go to the places she describes to experience the things she has and feel them for myself. Just like Mr Adams, with his boat gone out in the bay, and Mrs Smith with her old general store burnt down, one day the people Emma FitzGerald talked to will be gone. The buildings will be repainted or faded, or sometimes crumbled to the ground from neglect and abandonment. Sketch by Sketch Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore has collected them all for posterity and it bears witness to who we
are as a people, the wondrous life we live and neighbours who walk with us. Years from now, people will pick up this book and with a glance, be taken back to a preserved moment in time that no longer exists. That’s the mark of an artist. ■ Bobbi Pike is an artist and native of Spaniard’s Bay, Newfoundland. She is the author of Newfoundland’s first adult colouring book, The Colours of Newfoundland and Labrador, and now Newfoundland’s first shareable colouring book, Come Colour With Me in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Atlantic Books Today
Fall is for Festivals Shauntay Grant, Terry Fallis, Nino Ricci, Wayne Johnston, Katherena Vermette and Sheree Fitch headline a stellar festival season by Denise Flint
itting the books come September isn’t just about going back to school. There’s also a lot of literary action on the festival front. The Word on the Street Halifax Book and Magazine Festival is the largest and oldest single-day book fair in Atlantic Canada. Organizers seek to provide a literary “theme park” wherein the printed word comes to life through interaction with creators. The 8,000 or so attendees will have to choose carefully amongst a myriad of venues and genres—there’s a lot going on at any one time, including the popular Pitch the Publisher. This year, Newfoundland author Glenn Deir will be appearing at Word on the Street for the first time, sharing the stage with Bridget Canning and Lesley Choyce. “I will spend the full day immersing myself in books,” Deir says. “You can make a day of it and seek out whatever it is you like in books. Halifax has a library they can really be proud of. It’s a wonderful place.” Word on the Street is free to attend and takes place at the new Halifax Central Library on September 16 from 10:00 to 4:00. Billing itself as the TIFF of Canlit, because it often serves as a jumping off point for many fall releases that go on to be nominated for literary awards, the Fog Lit Festival in Saint John, New Brunswick will be held from September 27 to October 1. Since its beginning in 2013, Fog Lit has brought more than 80 authors to the Saint John area to participate in readings, poetry slams, progressive dinner, story-time activities, school visits, teen coffee house, lunch & learn, panel discussions and a brunch featuring an open mic for emerging writers. The festival also provides authorrun workshops for attendees that enable them to better their storytelling skills and expand their writing portfolio. This year’s festival includes a diverse lineup ranging from former Halifax Poet Laureate Shauntay Grant to food writer Simon Thibault. The Lunenburg Literary Festival, running September 29 and 30, is only in its second year. But it’s already making big waves. Administered by the South Shore Public Libraries it blends up-and-coming local writers with bigger names from away. The festival includes a guided literary tour of Lunenburg, a free children’s story mob and readings Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and evening. This year’s writers include two-time Leacock Medal winner Terry Fallis and two-time Governor General’s Award winner Nino Ricci.
Identify Lesley Choyce Orca Book Publishers
The Walking Bathroom Shauntay Grant Nimbus Publishing
First Snow, Last Light Wayne Johnston Knopf Canada
Atlantic author Stephen Kimber leads the non-fiction panel. “You get to meet and chat with people who like to read! What could be better for any author? I immediately said ‘yes’ when they asked me to do a reading,” he says. Tickets for individual sessions or for the entire festival are available from the participating libraries and online. The Cabot Trail Writers’ Festival, which bills itself as “distinctly unstuffy,” takes place at the foot of St. Anne’s Bay on Cape Breton Island and runs from September 29 to October 1 at the Gaelic College. One of the things that makes this festival, now in its ninth year, special is the fact that each writer gives a short reading on the opening night and then, if possible, sticks around for the entire weekend, giving attendees plenty of opportunities to chat, eat and have a drink with them. This year the lineup includes Wayne Johnston, Katherena Vermette and Sheree Fitch. To cap off the event Douglas Gibson will be presenting his new stage performance, 150 Years of Great Canadian Storytellers. The show moves from decade to decade and features music and art from each ten-year period as well as one novelist or short-story writer in English and French. Denise Flint is a freelance journalist who lives just outside of St. John’s. She is Past President of the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador.
RON SUCH RONS@FRIESENS.COM T. 1.902.684.0888
Chocolate River Publishing telling our New Brunswick story
Find book activities at www.chocolateriverpublishing.com
Save the Humans Heartbreaking stories of staggering greed, and its devastating environmental impact by Erica Butler
eading Joan Baxter’s The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest, the story of the infamous Abercrombie pulp mill in Pictou County, is shocking and upsetting. I can’t say what hits hardest. Perhaps it’s the desperate giveaway of Nova Scotia’s forests to foreign corporations with decadeslong leases at bargain-bin prices. Or it could be the obviously high-risk, careless decision to pump a healthy tidal estuary, Boat Harbour, full of millions of litres of chemical effluent in hopes that nature would somehow clean it up. Or maybe it’s the deception and strong arming involved in getting the Pictou Landing First Nation to allow just that to happen in their own backyard, almost instantly decimating the waters its residents relied on for food and recreation. Any one of those aspects of the story is jaw dropping and agonizing but the straw that breaks the camel’s back is simply this: It’s been going on for more than 50 years and it’s still going on today. There’s little in Baxter’s friendly, highly readable account of the Pictou County pulp mill that is not still happening today, be it short-sighted forest management, lack of mill oversight, pricey government payouts to corporations or broken promises to clean up and restore Boat Harbour. Through Baxter we hear from Pictou Landing Elders and activists and a multi-generational group of other Pictou community residents and activists. Many acknowledge that the mill has brought badly needed jobs to Pictou. But most question the price that was paid for those jobs. The Mill is a valuable document of Nova Scotia history that connects directly to our present day. As I read it, I couldn’t help thinking that it should make its way into high school curricula. As Elizabeth May writes in her foreword: “More people need to understand the political deals that brought this mill into being and protect it still. Can nothing change the political culture of Nova Scotia to protect its citizens?” The political culture of investment in and under-regulation of resource-extractive industries is not Nova Scotia’s exclusive domain. It’s a pan-Canadian political culture, one that in Alberta has seen public institutions penetrated by the oil industry to such an extent that they have formed what Kevin Taft describes as a “deep state.” As a former Liberal MLA from Alberta, Taft has an insider perspective on the workings of political culture, which
gives the stories in Oil’s Deep State: How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming–in Alberta, and in Ottawa a sort of fly-on-the-wall quality. In Taft’s experience as a politician he’s been privy to conversations that might raise the hair on the back of your neck. (One particular threat from a “senior energy-industry official” in 2007 stands out. Taft recalls being told, “We can do things you’ll never know. You won’t even know what hit you.”) In Oil’s Deep State, Taft tells the story of the Alberta government’s journey from hard bargainers walking away from negotiations with Syncrude in 1973 over the first oil sands project (and later signing a deal with a 50 percent royalty on net profits and a five percent stake in the project) to the 1990s regime, which enacted policies written by oilindustry groups, offering open season on the oil sands and allowing firms to repay all their capital investments before paying just 25 percent in royalties. It’s a stunning turnaround of political philosophy and it all happened inside the same party, the Alberta Progressive Conservatives. What accounts for such a dramatic reversal is the basis of Taft’s deep-state theory. He describes how corporations
The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest Joan Baxter Pottersfield Press
Oil’s Deep State: How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming–in Alberta, and in Ottawa Kevin Taft Formac Publishing
The political culture of investment in and under-regulation of resource-extractive industries is not Nova Scotia’s exclusive domain. like Suncor, Imperial Oil and Enbridge threw money into political campaigns and created well-funded pro-industry groups like the Energy Policy Institute of Canada and the Canada School of Energy and Environment (housed within the University of Alberta), through which they were able to dominate the discussion around how to manage Alberta’s oil sands, and the province’s role in contributing to climate change. Oil’s Deep State and The Mill tell similar stories—the hobbling of our democratic institutions by corporations whose profit margins are directly linked to their ability to control our natural resources. They are cautionary tales of what happens when the fox ends up running the henhouse. Read ’em and weep. ■
Middle photo: Jamie Simpson; bottom photo: Miles Howe
Erica Butler is a freelance journalist, transportation columnist and former host of Habitat Radio.
Middle: Nova Scotia's long-standing relationship with pulp and paper companies has resulted in clear cuts such as this one. Bottom: The Boat Harbour Effluent Treatment Facility. Atlantic Books Today
AUTHOR TO AUTHOR Linden MacIntyre tells Stephen Kimber how bearing witness to atrocity in Beirut eventually led to his latest work of fiction about murder in Toronto
Stephen Kimber: You write fiction and non-fiction. How do you decide whether a project should be fiction or non-fiction?
LM: What struck me was the utter brutality. These refugee camps were basically unprotected. There were women, children, old people. Nobody was ready for the sort of influx of Phalangist Christian militia who took advantage of the absence of Palestinian fighters to conduct this awful pogrom. The Israeli military basically secured a perimeter around the place so nobody could get in or out. I asked them, “How do you justify this?” These are young guys, citizen soldiers, most of them very highly educated, sophisticated, fluent in English. I’ll never forget one guy saying, “The [Phalangists are] killing terrorists.” And I said, “Women and children?” He said, “Children grow up to be terrorists. Women are just bearers of people who will become terrorists. So we don’t really care.”
Linden MacIntyre: The Only Café could’ve been written as nonfiction. The reason I didn’t was I don’t think I’m fully qualified. The story has been told by journalists and by people who had closer involvement in the Lebanese Civil War and the  massacre than I did. But it was a profound experience I thought I could most effectively explore through fiction. SK: You were in Lebanon around the time of the massacres? LM: I had been in the Middle East on another assignment and they told me to break away and go up to Beirut [to cover the bombing assassination of Bachir Gemayel, Lebanon’s newly elected president]. I was literally on my way there as this atrocity was happening and nobody knew about it until it was over. I got there a day or two after. By then, the Lebanese Army and the Israeli Defense Forces had closed off the area. But I talked to a lot of the reporters who had actually gone in before the authorities shut it down. They were aghast, shell-shocked. I became determined I had to get in there, and I did. SK: How profound was that experience?
SK: Wow. LM: One of the most profound moments for me was watching a particularly horrifying excavation of a bombed-out little house and they were taking dead people out. I became absolutely transfixed by a bunch of boys who were probably 10 or 11, who were standing around watching. The expressions on their faces were the expressions of grown-ups: pure rage, silent, seething rage. I said to myself, “I am looking at the roots of all this so-called terrorism. This is a horrible massacre, but it doesn’t end here. It will
Linden MacIntyre photo: Joe Passaretti
by Stephen Kimber
go on, and on.” I realized this was far too big a subject for even a 10-minute piece on television, which is what I did. Far too big for a magazine article, even for a non-fiction book. This takes you into the realms of human nature and the human spirit, and the human capacity to be inhuman. I knew that, someday, I would have to address this directly. And the day came.
He said, “Children grow up to be terrorists. Women are just bearers of people who will become terrorists. So we don’t really care.”
SK: Was there a moment when you saw the story that becomes The Only Café and realized “I have it?” LM: I was sitting in The Only Café one evening, having a pint [laughter]. They opened this little bar, in the neighbourhood I live in, back in the 80s. I was sitting there one evening and I suddenly realized there’s a strange juxtaposition here. There’s this little booze place, quite eccentric, and less than a block away there’s a huge mosque. On Thursdays, you see this stream of people heading for the mosque, people who do not touch alcohol because it’s an Islamic neighbourhood. When the bartender sits down, I realize he’s Israeli. “This is too weird [laughter].” Then one evening, he disclosed he had served in the Israeli military, in the intelligence branch. I suddenly said, “Hey, I’ve got a bunch of characters here, and I’ve got a place, and, suddenly, all this Lebanese stuff.” And I just started picking and poking at it. SK: You’ve had two successful careers, TV and books. How do you see yourself ? LM: I’ve always seen myself in the same frame, as a storyteller. I always wanted to tell stories but I was starting out at a time when … My life got off to a very quick start with children and the rest of it. I needed to earn a living. So I took a job in the journalism business. And then I kind of got caught up in it and I let this notion of storytelling sort of fold into the work I was doing. After Beirut, I realized I could live as a journalist for 150 years and have the largest platform in the world. I still couldn’t get to the bottom of it. I had to try to develop in myself the capacity to tell the truth in a fictional format. Before I got the first novel in shape, it took me 10 years. SK: I really liked your first novel, The Long Stretch, but I remember it didn’t shake the foundations of Canadian literature. You were competing, if I remember, with Alistair MacLeod’s novel in the same year. Was that discouraging? LM: That it got buried? SK: Yes [laughter].
The Only Café Linden MacIntyre Random House Canada
LM: Yeah. It was very discouraging. You write a novel and you sit around with visions of sugarplums [laughter]. And then it comes out and you walk into a bookstore and it’s not there [laughter]. And you ask, “Where’s my book?” And they say, “Oh, they’re still in the warehouse.” “Well, shit. What are they doing in the warehouse?” SK: Been there, done that. LM: [The Long Stretch] was well received, except all the attention went to Alistair’s. Alistair was a famous short-story writer and everybody had been waiting with bated breath for years for Alistair to produce the novel. When I look back on it, it was a good thing because if The Long Stretch, which was an okay book, had received excessive attention and success, it could’ve spoiled me. [Instead] it made me think about the process. It allowed me a bit of breathing space in order to have another go at another novel if I really wanted to. And eventually, I really wanted to. ■ Stephen Kimber is a professor of journalism at the University of King's College and the award-winning author of nine non-fiction books and one novel.
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WHODUNNIT AND DOES IT EVEN MATTER ANYWAY?
Mystery is not only Literary; it is the nature of the human condition by Corey Redekop
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ince the creation of the printing press brought the art of fiction to a mass audience, there has been an ongoing discussion on the nebulous differences between Literature and those writings understood to be entertainment. As the debate would have it, Literature— pronounced with a capital L, no doubt by a bespectacled intellectual clad in a leather-elbowed tweed jacket—is otherwise referred to as “serious” fiction. Literature, this academic would have us believe, must be an exploration of the intricacies of the human condition. Literature is important. Literature makes you a better person. Literature changes the world. entertainment, in stark contrast, is a low-brow, blue-collar term, always pronounced with a lowercase e (very likely in comic sans font). When it is spoken of (and only rarely), it is by individuals who are, shall we say, more “non-discriminatory” and less “particular” in their choice of reading materials. entertainment, in blunt contrast to Literature, is shallow. entertainment is slight. entertainment dulls the senses and fogs the mind. entertainment leads to reality television. This notion is, of course, spectacularly ridiculous (both the argument itself and the lengths to which I’ve already gone to belittle it). All literature is entertainment, whether the author intends it to be or not. It’s up to the reader to make the ultimate verdict on its quality and success at being so. And to imply that entertainment offers little to no insight into “the human condition” is preposterous. I’ll hazard that Raymond Chandler’s classic 1953 work The Long Goodbye—a detective novel that, over time, has been reluctantly allowed to grace the realm of Literature, although at the time it was viewed as existing at a level even lower than entertainment, that of pulp—has as much, if not more, to say about humanity than most highbrow Pulitzer/Booker/ Giller Award-winning novels. And says it in a vastly more entertaining manner. And yet the squabble continues, kept alive through the most subliminal of techniques; any bookstore that classifies its wares under the shared heading of “Literature and Fiction” has declared its fealty to the status quo. And the additional demarcation of the art of fiction into what is termed “genre”—your fantasies, your romances, your scientific fictions, your numerous other “non-literary” subsets—only contributes to the befuddlement.
One such boundary has been erected between Literature and the genre known as mystery. Such deliberate differentiation between the two is arguably the most unfair of divisions, as—and I’m making a vastly uncalculated leap of logic here—all literature is, in essence, mystery. Mystery is (to slightly co-opt a phrase from seven paragraphs ago) inherent to the human condition. It is hardly the sole domain of world-weary shamuses, inquisitive amateur detectives and dogged police officers sworn to serve and protect (as with Bob Kroll’s recent, very fine Halifax police thriller The Hell of It All). Mystery is a driving force of every novel, every short story, every poem. Mystery, in its most basic form, is not knowing what happens next. Which, I’ll argue, is a prime motivator for a reader’s continued perusal of any story, mysterious or other. It’s also a prime motivator for getting out of bed in the morning, if only to answer the burning question of “What’s for breakfast?” Come to think of it, mystery is the human condition. Naturally, as a category of fiction, there are certain tenets to the classic mystery novel that may not be perceptibly found elsewhere. Yet, while advocates of Literature may hold their nose at the very idea of a clue-laden fiction being in any way literary, the co-opting of mystery’s many classic elements is a tried-andtrue practice. Authors may attempt to disguise said elements through stylistic choices and comparatively ambitious prose, but you cannot disguise the fact that, without an element of mystery, most (if not all) classic Literature would be deadening. Charlotte Brontë may have envisioned Jane Eyre as a novel of social criticism, but it’s the secret tenant of Thornfield Hall that people remember. F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was his treatise on the soul-rending values of the Roaring Twenties, but it’s the enigma of Gatsby’s past that haunts the reader once the last page has been read. It’s almost as if authors yearn to write a mystery, yet fear being pigeonholed within the genre, forever thus confined to the relative isolation of bookstore mystery shelves. Almost. Take, for a far more recent example, Donna Morrissey’s 2016 novel The Fortunate Brother. The third in a trilogy (after Sylvanus Now and What They Wanted), it continues down the path set by its precursors, being an intricate and bracingly realistic examination of the trials and tribulations of the Now family. Morrissey’s novel is as much a portrayal of small-town Newfoundland life as
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it is a family drama, set in a sadly all-too-identifiable landscape where the young abandon the province for Alberta as soon as feasible and where everybody “knew your dead like they knew their own.” The series as a whole would likely never be classified under the rubric of mystery, yet The Fortunate Brother was awarded not only the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award (confirming its literary bona fides), but also the Arthur Ellis Award for Excellence in Crime Writing (placing it firmly within the mystery genre). How could a single novel achieve two such ostensibly disparate distinctions? Despite its outward appearance as a location-specific family drama, The Fortunate Brother (intentionally or not) follows a template very similar to those of classic mysteries. Very early on, a secondary character turns up dead and a series of events and happenstance eventually places the blame on Kyle Now, the oldest surviving Now son. Playing the amateur detective (although never noted as such), Kyle begins to investigate the night in question, digging into the alibis of others and working to keep suspicion away from himself and his father Sylvanus. Like her previous novels, Morrissey’s scenario is rife with socio-political commentary and her comprehension of the vagaries of human nature and the social interplay of her characters, all combine to bring this fictional Newfoundland to living, breathing life (as only the best of literature is capable). But with observations such as “he could harbour such secrets from himself, but not from those they hurt the most,” it’s clear that the death and the ambiguity surrounding it drive the narrative down the path of mystery. Novels need not follow the stereotypical mystery storyline (setup, mystery itself, solution, conclusion) to employ elements of such to their own ends. Witness how four more Atlantic Canadian authors spin out similar scenarios—missing and/or deceased family members, to be exact—with markedly different results, yet all circling the genre of mystery. In The Only Café, author and former journalist Linden MacIntyre (The Bishop’s Man) juxtaposes the present-day story of Cyril Cormier, a young man beginning a career in journalism, with the history of his father Pierre, a Lebanese refugee. Five years after Pierre mysteriously vanishes, Cyril fully takes to his role as journalist (or, in other words, amateur detective), and MacIntyre’s
scenario enlarges exponentially to encompass Pierre’s shady associates, underhanded business dealings and, finally, the 1982 massacre at the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon. Rather than employing a direct retelling of Pierre’s story, MacIntyre parcels out the enigma of Pierre’s past throughout Cyril’s search for the truth. In so doing, the author plays with a central conceit of mystery novels, that of solving a crime to everyone’s satisfaction. “We waste a lot of precious time on abstractions,” notes Cyril’s friend Nader, “like The Truth.” Unlike the cozy armchair mysteries of Agatha Christie—where everything is wrapped up in a neat little bow by story’s end—The Only Café argues that not all mysteries will be solved and perhaps that’s for the best. MacIntrye’s characters insist that truth is a fiction or at best an amorphous reality and that “the only way to know what happens is to be a part of it.” “You live with somebody for years,” Cyril’s mother Aggie comments during his search for answers. “You think you’re sharing everything. Then one day you realize you really didn’t know that other person. And it dawns on you, that you only know what another person wants you to know.” This, MacIntyre hints, may be life’s one true unsolvable mystery. Similarly, the plot of Wayne Johnston’s First Snow, Last Light circles around a mysterious (there’s that word again!) parental disappearance, of both father and mother this time. In 1936, 14-year-old Ned Vatcher’s parents left their house one morning while Ned was away at school and were never heard from again. Their disappearance, among many other events, drives Ned through the decades to eventually become a successful media baron, like a Newfoundland Citizen Kane.
Being human, we readers naturally crave a sense of resolution. We yearn for answers, always in ample supply within the safe confines of a mystery novel, yet tragically lacking in reality.
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This Side of Sad Karen Smythe Goose Lane Editions
First Snow, Last Light Wayne Johnston Knopf Canada
First Snow is, like The Fortunate Brother, the third in a trilogy of Newfoundland novels (after The Colony of Unrequited Dreams and The Custodian of Paradise), all tied together through Johnston’s popular character of the boozing journalist Sheilagh Fielding. The novels are rich in geographical and historical detail, to the point where Newfoundland itself is as important a character as the protagonists. Yet, while the novel’s setting, characters, style and themes are far from those of a traditional mystery novel, Ned’s obsession with the disappearance overwhelmingly becomes the defining event of his life and thrusts the narrative headlong into genre territory. Despite its historical trappings, there is a heady whiff of dark detective noir in sentences such as, “I was an explorer who had fashioned an obsession that was solely mine. I had no rivals,
The Only Café Linden MacIntyre Random House
The Case of the Missing Men Kris Bertin Alexander Forbes Conundrum Press
no competitors. I was in quest of the heart of no one’s darkness but my own.” Like MacIntyre and Morrissey, Johnston understands that the notion of mystery encompasses far more than a search for clues. Mystery can be integral to our sense of self; it is a state of mind that drives us ever forward, striving to reveal that elusive something we feel will make us somehow whole. As Ned laments, “I felt I had to find them as if nothing but doing so would save me. I believed that even if I found out they had forsaken me, I could deal with it. I would, at last, understand.” Ned’s words resonate because, being human, we readers naturally crave a sense of resolution. We yearn for answers, always in ample supply within the safe confines of a mystery novel, yet tragically lacking in reality.
Imagine Yourself in a Different World gooselane.com 24
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This is a large part of the basic appeal of mystery stories, this guarantee of a solution. The belief that there are answers to our questions, if only we dig hard enough. That there is order to be found in the chaos. That the riddle shall be solved and the guilty punished. Perhaps this, then, is the elusive distinction between mystery and Literature; a mystery novel reassures us that the world conforms to a clear order, while Literature insists that closure is a myth on the level of a Sasquatch riding a unicorn. Karen Smythe’s novel This Side of Sad (excerpted on page 61) pushes at this notion as its protagonist, Maslan, tasks herself with solving the unsolvable. Following the ambiguous nature of her husband James’s death—was it accident or suicide?—a devastated Maslan finds herself shattered to the point of inaction. “I’ve been widowed,” she says, automatically rebelling against the term. “That sounds so selfish, doesn’t it? As if James’s death was an act of violence against me.” Faced with a future bereft of answers, Maslan forces herself to turn inward, detailing the moments of her life that led to the fateful day. She examines the minutiae of her history, attempting to discern the cracks between memory and fact; “[E]very bit of me has to be dissected, laid bare, exposed to the elements. There is no other way to move forward, no restart button or blueprint to follow, no script to tell me what to say or how to be.” Of the novels discussed here, Smythe’s debut is arguably furthest away in structure from a mystery novel. There are no external forces acting on her or her loved ones. There is no act of wrongdoing that may be attributed to an outside party. There is only a simple fact, repeated by Morrissey, Johnston and MacIntyre before her: that “truth” is at best a theory we construct to protect ourselves, to help us make sense of the senseless, to find purpose in the purposeless. It is how we face this possibility of the unresolvable and move past it that ultimately defines us.
Illustrations by Alexander Forbes from Kris Bertin's “masterfully weird” The Case of the Missing Men.
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Finally, sometimes the best thing an author can do is accept that a story is indeed a mystery, but understand that the genre does not have to be a limitation. Kris Bertin—recent winner of the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for his collection Bad Things Happen—fully embraces the tropes of the genre while at the same time subverting the reader’s expectations throughout, in his masterfully weird The Case of the Missing Men. A graphic novel (vividly illustrated by Alexander Forbes), the story outwardly resembles a classic young-adult mystery à la Nancy Drew, following as it does the adventures of an arguably-toocurious teenage girl. Acting as the de facto leader of a team of high school student detectives (closely resembling Scooby-Doo’s mystery team sans talking Great Dane), she and her friends discover themselves embroiled within a true mystery as they try to solve, like the title screams, the case of the missing men. Where the previous authors have employed mystery tropes to outwardly straightforward tales, Bertin and Forbes gleefully manhandle the archetypal form of the mystery novel to their own ends, wickedly twisting the expected into something altogether other. Much of the dialogue is deceptively simple, echoing the exposition-heavy method of Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys novels (“This whole thing started cause I saw a weird guy. Well
guess what? I saw another one! And he was even weirder!”). The minimalism of the dialogue is a perfect match to Forbes’s stark pen-and-ink drawings, evoking the sensibilities of classic noir and horror films. The whole story resembles the cinematic works of David Lynch, wherein a clean-cut façade masks an underbelly of seething, incomprehensible evil. Bertin delivers a story that is at once a stereotypical mystery and a dissection of what we expect a mystery to be. While there is indeed a resolution, it is ambiguous, open-ended; a conclusion only life (and, apparently, Literature) allows. It’s far from simple, this obscure partition that delineates (for some) the difference between entertainment and Literature. Perhaps it would be more correct to classify books as good and bad, but that’s also a matter of subjectivity. Or perhaps we could do away with differentiation altogether and agree that literature is as open-ended a concept as truth itself. ■ Corey Redekop is a writer and editor living in Fredericton, NB. His novels include the award-winning Shelf Monkey and the award-nominated Husk.
Further Reading For more examples of the literary mystery, check these forthcoming titles:
Last Lullaby Alice Walsh Nimbus Publishing
Cod Only Knows Hilary MacLeod Acorn Press
Death at the Harbourview Cafe Fred Humber Flanker Press
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Art by Wesley Bates from George Elliott Clarke’s The Merchant of Venice (Retried)
Story is Power Questions we need to ask about settler Canlit by Shannon Webb-Campbell
his past spring, Twitter blew up over the “appropriation prize” debacle, fuelled by an editorial by Hal Niedzviecki called “Winning the Appropriation Prize” in Write Magazine, a quarterly published by the Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC). As some of the top editors and journalists of Canada’s media outlets lauded the idea of creating a literary prize celebrating writers who seek to explore people, culture and narratives that are not their own, Canlit exposed its colonial underbelly. Atlantic Books Today
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As a mixed Indigenous (Mi’kmaq)-settler poet and one of the many Indigenous contributors featured in Write Magazine, I was perplexed when I read Niedzviecki’s editorial, in which he wrote, “I don’t believe in cultural appropriation. In my opinion, anyone, anywhere, should be encouraged to imagine other peoples, other cultures, other identities.” He suggested the “appropriation prize” be awarded for the “best book by an author who writes about people who aren’t even remotely like him or her.” A great many emerging and established Indigenous writers ( Joshua Whitehead, Tanya Roach, Richard Van Camp, Elaine J Wagner, myself and more) had explored, for Write Magazine, themes of rejection, reconciliation, empathy and wounded histories. Instead of honouring Indigenous writers and poets, TWUC shamed us. CONSENT IS CRUCIAL BECAUSE OUR STORIES ARE US In Whitney French’s May 2017 Quill & Quire article, “Examining the root of cultural appropriation,” she defines cultural appropriation as “telling someone else’s stories without consent,” “extracting a narrative, story, history outside of its full context, often for capitalistic or political gain,” and “dismantling any sense of authenticity a cultural narrative possesses.” That’s a good starting point. Alicia Elliott, who was also featured in the controversial issue of Write Magazine and was the first person to call out TWUC on the matter, added that cultural appropriation is not about censorship. It’s not about the inability to create characters different from your own cultural experience. Cultural appropriation is about consent, or the lack thereof. How can we hope to understand profound experiences from another cultural group if we haven’t even bothered to ask whether it’s appropriate to share their stories in the first place? Neidzviecki clearly didn’t understand this when he described Indigenous writers as being “buffeted by history and circumstance” and writing from “what they don’t know.” How could he
Apron Strings Jan Wong Goose Lane Editions
know what we know? Or what we don’t know? We have been here for time immemorial and we have very different knowledge systems from those that settler-oriented Canadian Literature understands. And here’s what the settler-Canadians jumping on the “cultural appropriation prize” social-media bandwagon also didn’t understand: stories are integral to cultures. Stories are a means of passing down knowledge. Stories are sacred witness and ceremony and thus come with a sacred responsibility. We, Indigenous writers, are writing what we know in our bones, bodies and hearts. We are writing with our ancestors and we carry generations of voices. Stories are immensely powerful. Ours are complex, and at the heart of the problem with appropriating stories and voices lie questions around location: where a story belongs; and ownership: who it belongs to and who is the rightful teller. A story isn’t merely a story; it’s a telling and retelling, a living and breathing entity. All stories are acts of ceremony and harbour responsibility. Stories belong to particular cultures, peoples, lands and spirits. QUESTIONS I ASK MYSELF While Canada is awakening to the existence and quality of its Indigenous literatures, there remains a continuous appetite for the work of journalists turned authors, an intersection where a career built on telling other people’s stories meets writing one’s own story. First person. As a writer who started as a journalist, I remember it felt like breaking a wall when I started writing in the first person, offering up my own story. It was dismantling and exciting. I think this is what led me to become a poet, the chance to share truth in a personal way—it’s a form of criticism with a poetic veneer. Recently, I signed a contract with BookThug for my second poetry collection, Who Took My Sister? This work has left me sifting through layers of cultural appropriation. Who Took My
The Merchant of Venice (Retried) George Elliott Clarke Gaspereau Press
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Sister? explores trauma, the land and Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirits. Some of the poems (“On Cowie Hill,” which is dedicated to Loretta Saunders, “Amber Tuccaro’s Last Phone Call” and “Bottle Breaking Memories of Life,” for Inuk artist Annie Pootook), root from news articles about specific Indigenous women. My intention as a poet is to offer healing, light and voice to a voiceless choir of women who are my ancestral sisters, aunties, cousins, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Yet, I fear the work will be perceived as cultural appropriation. In writing these poems, I have interrogated myself. Who am I to write this? What are my intentions for this collection of poetry? Who is my intended audience? Am I Indigenous enough to write as a mixed Indigenous (Mi’kmaq)-settler? How much of a poet am I? I am not sure I have all the answers to these questions. I know Who Took My Sister? came from a need to attempt to voice colonial trauma, to make space for Indigenous women who have been silenced for decades and perhaps, in turn, to find my own voice post-trauma. I hope the poems find readers who take heart and find healing in poetry. It took me a lifetime to deem myself poet, yet I am still hesitant and I caution myself when declaring it. As the government has recently revoked my Qalipu Mi’kmaq status (along with that of 83,000 others), a colonial structure reminds me that I am not Indigenous enough to call myself a Mi’kmaq poet. But the government doesn’t really believe poets have careers either. QUESTIONS WE MIGHT ASK OTHERS I wonder if all writers and poets go through this self-examination process, even questioning their roles as storytellers. Take for instance, Carol Off, who is the host of CBC Radio’s As It Happens. Off recently published All We Leave Behind: A Reporter’s Journey into the Lives of Others, which explores the life of Asad Aryubwal,
All We Leave Behind: A Reporter’s Journey into the Lives of Others Carol Off Penguin Random House
an Afghan man who exposed via a CBC TV documentary the deeds of warlords working with American and NATO troops. His participation snowballed into a relocation to Canada. In reading this work, I wonder: did Off question her intentions? Did she grapple with her dual roles of journalist and writer? Perhaps most significantly, did she question her ability be an honourable vessel for Aryubwal’s story? Or is he the only true teller? To me, All We Leave Behind raises some important questions around cultural appropriation. As a journalist, Off was on assignment for CBC when she encountered Aryubwal. Her initial intention was to help facilitate Aryubwal’s storytelling through a television documentary. The power of his story, of story in general, must have been clear to her. Her account of Aryubwal’s life intersected with her own world. As his story became larger than its original telling, Off chose to let the story take over, apart from the ethical supervision of a national news outlet. Sometimes a story needs to be told and has its own agency and affect on a listener. In the book’s acknowledgements, Off attempts to take responsibility for the ethics of telling and retelling someone else’s story by being as upfront as she can. First, she thanks the Aryubwals by name and offers gratitude for their patience with her “pushy questions and endless requests for clarifications.” She admits that any fault in her ability to honour the story is entirely her responsibility because no writer, poet or storyteller has the ability to create a complete account of another person’s story, or a complete retelling of their experiences. I do wonder how Aryubwal feels about the book and how his story has now become Off ’s story. Is he aware how powerful his story is and what it means for North American readers to witness his journey through Off ’s lens? Off ’s preface to the book comes from Richard Wagamese’s “The Canada Poem,” which acts as poetic testimony to ownership of story and how stories make up our lives. Wagamese
Minegoo Mniku: the Mi’kmaq Creation Story of Prince Edward Island (Epekewitkewey A’tukwaqn) Sandra L Dodge Acorn Press
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writes, “in the end it is all we carry forward and all we leave behind. Our story. Everything we own.” How our lives are lived, through narrative and stories, is our only claim. As a critic, I find it interesting that Off uses an Indigenous writer to preface her story about another person’s life and culture and his family’s relocation to Canada. Isn’t this a form of cultural appropriation? The teller of the story isn’t always the owner of a story. And this is where things can become murky. For example, Jan Wong’s Apron Strings: Navigating Food and Family in France, Italy and China, invites readers to question the authority of the teller. Wong uses first-person narration of her travels to three very distinct cultures to explore how home cooking unites us all. She travels with her 22-year-old son, Sam, who despite not being thrilled to go travelling with his mother, wants to be a chef and seizes the opportunity. Wong, who divides her time between Toronto and Fredericton, is currently an assistant professor at St. Thomas University. Her biography spans being a foreign correspondent in Beijing for several years—she was an eyewitness to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, inspiring her Red China Blues, still banned in China—and work as a staff writer at The Globe and Mail, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal and The Gazette.
Food is a natural vehicle for storytelling; it’s around meals that we gather and in the gathering we pass stories down through the generations. Through these meals we sustain ourselves, heal and share. As a third-generation Canadian who grew up in Montreal speaking English, a little French and zero Chinese (she learned the language later in life), Wong inhabits multiple languages, skins and identities. But her mixed background does not necessarily give her authority to tell stories about China to Canadians. Wong owns this by writing from a personal vantage point. I do wonder if she questioned herself about cultural appropriation in telling these stories about people she meets on her travels. And I wonder, for non-Chinese Canadians, how do we know whether to accept her authority? Are we even able to see if she has overstepped boundaries? Do we have the knowledge or moral authority to question her cultural authenticity? I do know that Wong’s storytelling is at its most convincing when she explores the complexities of motherhood, a narrative rooted in her own relationship with her son Sam. She writes of how they explore the preparation, sharing and experience of food together. That shared exploration nourishes spirits beyond cultural borders and this is an important insight into the broader human condition. My questions then extend from adult works to children’s literature, where important values are often seeded. It is therefore a place for serious ethical consideration. One significant new work is Minegoo Mniku: the Mi’kmaq Creation Story of Prince Edward Island, Epekewitkewey A’tukwaqn, retold and illustrated by Sandra L Dodge and translated into Mi’kmaw by Georgina Francis. This is a story and an act of ceremony, one that ran obvious risk for cultural appropriation, were permission not granted to tell the story. The book prominently includes a quotation from July PellisierLush (author of My Mi’kmaq Mother) that acts almost as a guide to reading Mniku. She writes, “The keepers of the culture have always been our storytellers…The Mi’kmaq people didn’t have a written language, we kept our history alive with stories; and the keepers of the stories were the storytellers.” Written in both Mi’kmaw and English, Mniku is a stunning retelling of Kluscap, how Prince Edward Island is placed “gently upon the bright blue waters” and how this pleases the Great Spirit. A simple creation story, yet the fact the book is published in Mi’kmaw first and English second gives nod to the origin of the story. Author and illustrator Dodge is of mixed settler and Indigenous ancestry and the translator is a Mi’kmaw speaker. I still have questions. I am curious to know where this story comes from and I wonder who the original teller of this story is, if there is even such a thing as a singular source. Perhaps it’s impossible to pinpoint precisely where this story originates, because it belongs to the Mi’kmaq people of PEI and has been told and retold over time. Yet, given this tense climate of cultural appropriation, I wonder where Lodge originally heard the story and why she chose to
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retell and illustrate it at this particular time. Who is responsible for the story now? The author or the publisher? Or do the readers now take on responsibility for the story? FLIPPING THE SCRIPT Perhaps, with a delicate touch, it’s even possible to flip the script. George Elliott Clarke tries doing just that with his latest, The Merchant of Venice (Retried), a retelling of a popular Shakespeare comedy and a delicious spectacle. In asking myself all these questions about writers’ intentions and thought processes, I have to wonder: did Clarke question himself as a Black author rewriting a white narrative? Did he fear a backlash, or the questioning of his authority as a writer? Does he need to? In this case, Clarke can’t ask Shakespeare (the latter being long dead) if he can rewrite The Merchant of Venice. His introduction explains his intentions in re-wording and shortening scenes. “I do not follow Shakespeare slavishly,” he writes. “I’m a vandal, not a disciple. Anyway, Criminology shadows Psychiatry, always, in The Lives of Poets.” Here, a modern take by a Black writer offers new insight rather than representing another culture with stolen authority. Clarke’s cheeky preface, “On Retrying the Merchant of Venice: A Forward Foreword,” shows that he found The Merchant of Venice “dissatisfying.” Yet he harnesses the power of (European) history’s most popular playwright to look more closely at racism and how it betrays us, casting “villain” as victim of tyranny. Shakespeare’s original pseudo-feminism and racial bigotry is overthrown by Clarke with his Baptist-Marxist retelling. No other contemporary author could successfully rewrite The Merchant of Venice like Clarke, whose poetics are pure jazz. His ability to write, rewrite and reconfigure the old Bard resounds. Clarke succeeds where others fail because he’s not trying to represent another culture. His rewriting confronts anti-Semitism and in doing so he, as a Black writer from an oppressed, racialized community, stands up against colonialism. Listen, easy answers are not the endgame, which is lucky because there aren’t any. The questions are the things. I invite you, readers, writers and publishers, to reflect, question and expand conversations around cultural appropriation. Keep the conversation going. Each of us has the ability to be critical and approach reading literature with the sophistication of an informed and intelligent skeptic. With an ever-expanding literary discourse, it’s on readers to seek out new voices, treating the power of story with the respect it deserves. ■ Shannon Webb-Campbell is a Mi’kmaq poet, writer and critic. Her debut collection of poetry is called Still No Word. Her second collection, Who Took My Sister?, is being published by BookThug next year.
Further Reading For more examples of works to get you thinking about cultural representation in Canadian literature, check these for thcoming titles:
Chief Lightning Bolt Daniel N Paul Roseway Publishing
Chocolate Cherry Chai Taslim Burkowicz Roseway Publishing
Under Her Skin Stephen Law Roseway Publishing
Policing Black Lives Robin Maynard Fernwood Publishing
Atlantic Books Today
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Not In Our Town Atlantic Canadaâ€™s sex trade by Wanda Lauren Taylor
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andy (not her real name) is a young thirty-something who purchased her first home two years ago and found herself front and centre to the Dartmouth stroll, where johns regularly pick up sex workers. “I grew up in a pretty sheltered environment in a reasonably affluent neighbourhood,” she says. “Prostitution was not something I realized happened in our city and province so publicly. I am a realistic person though…so I accepted it as it was. I assumed that it wouldn’t really affect my life in this neighbourhood.” Sandy soon realized the opposite was true. She had to call police once, when it appeared that a man was assaulting a sex worker on the corner. The woman was clearly upset, but when Sandy asked if she needed help she said she was okay. In another incident, Sandy called the police to help a sex worker who appeared to be inebriated and walking in the middle of the road into traffic. Sandy wanted the police to help her get to someplace safe. Although she’s tried to help sex workers when she’s seen the need, Sandy also feels a small element of danger. In the back of her mind she sometimes worries that a pimp may see her looking out the window or that someone may come knocking on her door, thinking she snitched on them. “IT ISN’T GOING ON HERE” Most people who travel along Sandy’s busy Dartmouth road remain oblivious to what the night brings. Those of us who work on the front lines of the sex trade are all too aware of the challenges, the stigma and the traumatic stories that come from the streets. Each of those sex workers has a story, something that has led them to their path. There are many myths about sex work in Atlantic Canada: that sex workers are nothing but deviants with low moral compasses, that all sex workers are victims of childhood abuse. And, perhaps most commonly, that “this kind of thing isn’t going on here.” As Sandy’s story shows, if you never see it you can pretend it doesn’t exist. But on the contrary, sex work in Atlantic Canada has been thriving for a very long time.
Atlantic Books Today
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There are in fact indications that sex work on the East Coast may be on the rise. In my work as executive director for the Stepping Stone Association, an organization that supports women, men and transgendered persons currently and formerly involved in the sex trade, we see continual increases in the number of sex workers we provide outreach and assistance to. Stepping Stone has existed for close to 30 years. The need for its service is just as important now as it was when the association started out as two workers back in 1989, walking the streets to provide sandwiches and free condoms to workers on the stroll. We believe in harm reduction, without judgment, and we offer supports in many forms—whatever might help sex workers remain safe. If and when sex workers decide to exit the industry, Stepping Stone supports the transition to increase the chances of success. SEX WORKER STORIES SHED LIGHT Our conservative selves would have us believe we are well past days of “the stroll,” but there are signs that suggest otherwise, such as the emergence of stories shedding light on the personal lives of sex workers and their raw experiences. We are seeing new written works that give readers a window into sex work in Atlantic Canada. Kerri Cull’s book, Rock Paper Sex: The Oldest Profession in Canada’s Oldest City, is set to be released this autumn. The author paints a vivid picture of the sex trade in St. John’s, Newfoundland through interviews with people actively working in it. We hear from a wealthy couple who engage in a form of sexwork service together, for the money and for pleasure; and from another sex worker who asserts that increasingly, sex workers like him are independent and not forced into the lifestyle, as many
Rock Paper Sex: The Oldest Profession in Canada’s Oldest City Kerri Cull Breakwater Books
If you never see it you can pretend it doesn’t exist. But on the contrary, sex work in Atlantic Canada has been thriving for a very long time.
believe. We learn about a graduate student who entered the trade to pay her bills and start her own business and about a M-to-F (male-to-female) sex worker who entered the trade to pay for her transition treatment. In addition to its compelling human stories of sex workers’ lives, Rock Paper Sex makes some important footnotes, providing context on the profession as a whole, including a discussion of the long-standing St. John’s rumours that some swingers’ clubs have more than 300 members. The book also looks at the Safe Haven Project (SHOP), which provides much needed services to sex workers but as a single resource is nowhere near enough in a city with a booming sex industry. While Rock Paper Sex employs a journalistic approach to share diverse accounts of sex work, in The Teen Sex Trade: My Story, Jade H Brooks gives a harrowing first-person account of her own voyage into the sex trade by way of her boyfriend. (Full disclosure: I recently began work as an acquisitions editor for Formac Publishing, under which Jade’s title is published, however I have had no direct involvement in this book).
The Teen Sex Trade: My Story Jade H Brooks Formac Publishing
Ride or Die Wanda Lauren Taylor Lorimer Publishing
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The prevalence of this type of coercion, in this case from an intimate partner, is more common than most people think. Any woman involved in sex work not by choice is being trafficked, used for the financial gain and benefit of others. Jade Brooks’ book is sure to ignite the ongoing debate and discussion around sex work, trafficking and the dangers of conflating the two, which do not always overlap. It also picks at what we accept as normal and what we consider abuse. Dysfunctional relationships can lead one to believe their pain and suffering is all in the name of love. Those trafficked into sex work often feel they are being protected and loved; most people can’t wrap their head around this kind of thinking. My own book, Ride or Die, is a fictional story about a 15-yearold girl, Kanika, from rural Guysborough, Nova Scotia, who is trafficked and taken to Toronto. Although fictional, the story mimics the lives of hundreds and thousands of young girls who fall victim to predators cashing in on their trauma. While society is looking for scary pimps to prosecute, high school peers, friends and boyfriends are increasingly becoming the new faces of this epidemic. In the book, Kanika’s crush is also a recruiter. Unbeknownst to her, there is a motive for his sudden interest. In my work at Stepping Stone, we often deal with horrified mothers desperately searching for ways to claim their daughters back. As Sandy learned when she discovered “the stroll” in Dartmouth, this lucrative business is happening right under our noses and, yes, right on the East Coast. Rather than stand in judgment, we as a society should familiarize ourselves with the realities of sex workers, their lives and the challenges they face. These first-voice accounts are an initial step in educating ourselves about the lack of services—mental health, housing, employment support, education opportunities—for sex workers, and how this shortfall prevents people from successfully exiting the industry. And for those who choose the profession, understanding their stories shows us why they still deserve the same access to healthcare, dignity and human rights as everybody else. ■ Wanda Lauren Taylor is an award-winning advocate, author, filmmaker and social worker based in Dartmouth, NS. She is executive director of the only organization in the Maritimes providing support and programming for sex workers. Her new YA novel, Ride or Die, is based on the real-life experiences of young sex workers. For more on Ride or Die, visit atlanticbookstoday.ca.
2017 Books from New World Publishing:
Canada 150 : Social History of Colonial Maritimes & Confederation; Canadian Best-Seller: 3rd Edition, Oak Island Unearthed!; Historic Halifax walking tours. All authors to speak at Word on the Street on Sept. 16! In stores where fine books are sold! CANADA 150: From14thColony to Confederation: 1749-1867 – 288 pages, 103 photos, indexed.(July) ISBN 9781895814668 - $21.95 Trace governors’ progress, the influential councils and elites who controlled everything until the evolution of the middle class; political parties and responsible government; Tupper & Howe debates; Maritime Union shelved in favour of Confederation. Explainswarsinboom/bust cycles. Humourous; fascinating 18th-19th Century language; authentic story of how Nova Scotia/Maritimes came to be! CANADIAN BEST-SELLER Oak Island Unearthed! 3rd Canadian Edition (May, 2017) ISBN 9781895814583 - $22.50 New chapters, new Foreword, new photos of Maya sites. New shafts revealed; maps, updated evidence: prophecy, ritual mathematics, carbon dating; diagrams of ancient mine, ‘money pit’ design. What is really buried there? Author O’Brien has worked on theory and evidence for 58 years+. Story begins well over 1000 years ago, not 220! Visits were by two ancient meso-american cultures. ePub3: 9781895814699- $9.99 THREE WALKING TOURS Historic Halifax Streetscapes Then and Now, v.1 - B. DeLory – ISBN 9781895814514 – $14.95 126 colour photos, maps, references ... tours of downtown Halifax: Barrington, Hollis, Argyle, Parade Square, Spring Garden Rd., South Park to Bell Rd. Architecture, history, re-development. Impress your friends with your knowledge! Pocket-sized companion to Three Centuries of Public Art. Optional/identical e-book: 9781895814644 -$9.99
Toll free: 1-877-211-3334
Atlantic Books Today
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Standing on the Shoulders of a Giant Poet Alden Nowlan’s large, red-bearded legacy for the not-yet emerged by Brian Bartlett
ne morning in February 1969 at a Fredericton High School assembly in the old Justice Building on Queen Street, an impressively large, red-bearded, rough-voiced newcomer to the city read poetry to hundreds of students. Nearly half a century later, few memories of that event stay with me, except for the jolting conclusion of one poem (“your compassion the conceit / that all living things are Alden Nowlan in disguise”) and a sense of discovery that a physically towering man could express such gentleness and vulnerability in his words.
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In this century, much new poetry in our country has been characterized more by cleverness...than by emotional openness.
Around that time, Nowlan invited us students to send our poetry to him. Soon I received a generous, painstakingly typed critique from Alden, as well as the opening to what would grow into a warm-hearted friendship. Much later, in the fall of 2015, a phone call from Goose Lane Editions/icehouse poetry editor Ross Leckie was another milestone moment in decades of reading, writing, teaching and editing poetry. It was a surprise to hear that Goose Lane had decided to produce a giant volume gathering together all of Alden’s poetry books (published between 1958 and 1983) and Ross wanted to know if I’d be interested in editing such a volume. How could I say no to such a rare opportunity? As the months passed, I increasingly felt a sense of having been given both a great responsibility to do justice to a very valuable body of poetry and a great honour to help see the book into print. Before writing the requested bio/critical introductory essay, I re-read Nowlan’s many poetry books, along with four of his prose volumes, two books about his work and two biographies of him. That reading sparked many reminders of what a special poet and unforgettably original, unusual man had left us at the young age of 50. Commentaries on Nowlan’s life and writing have sometimes overemphasized the misery and violence in his early years and diminished his poems as “straightforward,” “simple” or “prosy.” So the introductory essay to the Collected emphasizes the variations in Alden’s own presentations of his poverty-afflicted youth in
Sketchwork in preparation for Stephen Scott's iconic painting of Alden Nowlan. The finished version, opposite, hangs in the Harriet Irving Library at UNB Fredericton.
rural Nova Scotia in the 1930s and 40s, and argues for the skill and sophistication of his artistry. Writing the essay was a chance to demonstrate his awareness of conflicting memories, the masks of self and the “various persons” (to use one of his own phrases), that make up each human individual. Much of the work in editing a volume of collected poems zooms in on minutiae. As editor I felt the need to respect the poet’s decisions and to resist temptations for modernizing or consistency: “traffick” and “waggon” were kept, along with “Grade III or IV” (rather than “Grade 3 or 4”), the coining of the noun “barnfloor” (not “barn floor”) and “bandaid” and “frisbee” (not “Band-Aid” and “Frisbee”). (When instructions in The Chicago Manual of Style were pointed out I was tempted to joke, “Chicago be
Collected Poems of Alden Nowlan Edited by Brian Bartlett Goose Lane Editions
Atlantic Books Today
New from Pottersfield Press
Homecoming The Road Less Travelled new fiction by
Wayne Curtis $21.95 ISBN 978-1-988286-13-6 www.pottersfieldpress.com book and e-book available from Nimbus and Amazon
Under Her Skin A Novel by Stephen Law 9781552668474 $21.00
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Award-winning Halifax Explosion books : New World Publishing www.newworldpublishing.com Toll free: 1-877-211-3334
Two fascinating books on the Explosion by Triple-Award winning author, Joel Zemel: Scapegoat, 100thAnniversary Edition (newest edition) and Betrayal of Trust, the story of Commander F. Evan Wyatt, the only person criminally charged and subsequently aquitted in connection with this tragic event. Scapegoat is highly cited and referenced new title on the Explosion and a recent winner of the prestigious International John Lyman Award (Naval & Maritime History) in June, 2017; the latter is a personal story of Wyatt - and of betrayal - to be released at Word on the Street in September. Betrayal of Trust: Commader Wyatt & Halifax Explosion ISBN 9781895814767 (192 pp. photos, indexed: $19.95 e-Pub 3 : $9.95 (ISBN 9781895814774) Fascinating personal story of Wyatt’s early life in UK, schooling, RCN examining officer in Halifax Harbour (1917) th Scapegoat: 100 Anniversary Edition divorce, charges, trial, ISBN 9781895814620 : 504 pp. (7x10, indexed, noted, 220 aquittal-and subsequent photos), ©2016 (3 awards: two international; two firsts) -$34.95 long life in the USA. Authoritative, highly respected book on the 1917 Explosion. 38
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damned!” because I’ve never believed that poets need consult a style manual as an absolute authority.) Knowing full-well my limitations as a proofreader, I’ve been lucky to have Goose Laners Martin and Jill Ainsley pinpoint errors in transcription and to benefit from their understanding and their dedication, and that of other Goose Lane people, to create an accurate, elegant volume. Effective, creative editing often requires the care of several minds and pairs of eyes, not just of one solitary worker. Other interesting tasks assigned to the editor included the tracking down of artwork for a frontispiece (we decided on a preliminary sketch by Stephen Scott for his profoundly empathetic portrait of Alden) and the assigning and editing of four brief commentaries to appear on the back of the book’s dust jacket. For the latter, considering that many people other than academics and poets have enjoyed Nowlan’s writing, it was especially pleasing to get a blurb from one of Canada’s most distinctive singer-songwriters, Al Tuck. “Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and “labour of love” are two clichés hard to avoid using here. Now begins the suspense of waiting to see if the book’s publication will, over time, influence any future Canadian poetry. In this century, much new poetry in our country has been characterized more by cleverness, metaphorical brilliance and impersonal intelligence than by emotional openness. The all-too-human embodiments of fear, guilt, ecstasy, anger, hope and love in Alden Nowlan’s poetry could excite and guide Canadian poets yet to emerge. ■ Brian Bartlett of Halifax has two books of prose coming out this fall: All Manner of Tackle: Living with Poetry (Palimpsest) and Branches Over Ripples: A Waterside Journal (Gaspereau Press).
eating delicious Old meets new in our food section, and it’s all incredibly tasty
Salted caramel apple parfaits
Photo: Dennis Prescott
Visit atlanticbookstoday.ca for recipes and food reviews.
ontrast and balance are important aspects of good cooking, which is why we present here a contrast between the old and the new: Dennis Prescott’s contemporary (linguistically and dietarily) Eat Delicious and Valerie Mansour’s Nova Scotia Cookery, Then and Now, a book that glories in a long history of East Coast eating. The former is full of inspiring new recipe ideas, some of which are, as our reviewer puts it, “quite dujour.”
Everything from lobster mac n cheese to our featured recipe, meatball pizza. The latter does double duty as cookbook and historical documentation, providing useful recipes based on oldfashioned home cooking with locally available ingredients. We think they provide a nice contrast with a whole lot of good eating. Bon appétit!
Atlantic Books Today
Eat Delicious: Exactly What it Suggests Eat Delicious: 125 Recipes for Your Daily Dose of Awesome Dennis Prescott HarperCollins
EAT DELICIOUS, 125 RECIPES FOR YOUR DAILY Dose of Awesome by New Brunswick’s Dennis Prescott, is the kind of cookbook you turn to when looking for inspiration, hoping to find an idea of what to cook for supper or the motivation to visit your local market. It’s such a book for two reasons: the recipes and the photographs of ingredients and finished dishes. Apart from a couple of sushi recipes—raw fish makes some people squeamish—the clear majority of the 125 recipes would appeal to most palates. Prescott’s dishes are the type you’d find in many first-rate bistros: French toast with grilled peaches, slow-roasted pulled-pork burgers, lobster mac and cheese, pizza and blueberryrhubarb galette. A few are quite dujour, like the maplebacon scones—yes, bacon with everything is still in. Prescott has a popular Instagram account, so it’s no surprise he knows how to snap a smart looking photo. Instagram thrives on pictures of mouth-watering food. In the introductory portion of the book he says he likes to shoot “darker, moodier images that have a raw and rustic aesthetic.” That doesn’t mean they aren’t beautiful. They are. While many dishes are photographed in black cast-iron skillets and earthenware and on stained, bare wood, I’d call them unpretentious and joyful. One, of roasted carrots with pesto, thanks to composition and lighting, is gallery worthy. Some readers will be eager to make Prescott’s recipes— I’m sure with success—others may be uncomfortable with the large number and extra cost of ingredients required for many dishes. For example, 25 ingredients for roasted-tomato soup with rosemary croutons is, in my view, excessive. Of course, experienced cooks will be confident enough to eliminate some of Prescott’s ingredients and still end up with very good-tasting food. His methods, after all, are sound. ■ 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 magazine. atlanticbookstoday.ca
SALTED CARAMEL APPLE PARFAITS Makes 8 to 12 servings INGREDIENTS Salted caramel
by Karl Wells
From Eat Delicious:
1 cup sugar 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup heavy cream ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon sea salt Maple sautéed apples
2 tablespoons butter 1½ pounds Cortland,
Quick pan granola
1½ cups rolled oats 1 cup pecan halves, chopped 1 tablespoon butter 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup Whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Honeycrisp or Sweet Tango apples (4 large), peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch chunks ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup DIRECTIONS 1. Make the salted caramel: In a high-sided nonstick pan, heat the sugar over medium heat, stirring continuously. It will turn into strange rock-ish pieces—it’s all good, fear not! Slowly but surely, the sugar will melt and turn into a gorgeous amber color. When the sugar has melted entirely and is now golden brown in color, carefully stir in the butter and let it melt. It will bubble like crazy. Stirring continuously, slowly pour the cream into the pan in a slow and steady stream until it has been incorporated into the caramel. Let the mixture bubble away for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and sea salt and very carefully pour it into a medium heatproof bowl. Set aside. 2. Make the apples: Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the apple chunks and cinnamon and cook, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, or until the apples are very soft. Add the maple syrup and give the pan a toss to coat the apples. Cook for 1 minute, then transfer to a bowl and set aside. 3. Make the quick pan granola: Heat a large, dry skillet over medium heat and add the oats and pecans. Cook, turning every minute or so, until the oats are fragrant and have started to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. 4. Place the pan back on the burner and melt the butter and maple syrup. When the syrup is simmering, remove from the heat and stir in the oats and pecans. Mix thoroughly to evenly coat the oats, then transfer to a plate and set aside. 5. Make the whipped cream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or armed with a whisk and ambition, whip the cream until thick and glorious and fold in the vanilla. 6. Time to go to parfait town. Build each parfait with 2 tablespoons of the salted caramel, 2 tablespoons of the apples, and 2 tablespoons of the granola. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, then repeat. Finish with a final drizzle of caramel and serve.
MEATBALL PIZZA, THE FRIEND MAKER Makes two 12-inch pies INGREDIENTS Meatballs
1 pound best-quality ground beef (80% lean) 1 large free-range egg ½ cup panko bread crumbs ¼ cup whole milk ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 teaspoon dried oregano ½ teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes ¼ teaspoon onion powder ½ teaspoon sea salt ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Photo: Dennis Prescott
1 recipe Pizza Dough 1 cup The Pizza Sauce of Your Dreams 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese 4 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
DIRECTIONS 1. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. Make the meatballs: Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix gently with your hands. Roll the mixture into golf ball-size balls in the palms of your hands (you’ll end up with 14 to 16 meatballs). If the meatballs look a little big, fear not! They will shrink as they cook. Set the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch of space between each, and bake for 15 minutes, or until nicely browned and cooked through. Set aside. 3. Make the pizza: Increase the oven temperature to 550°F and let the pizza stone preheat for 30 minutes. 4. Roll out the dough into two 12-inch rounds on parchment paper. Spread 1/2 cup of the pizza sauce on each dough round, leaving 1 inch around the edges bare. Divide the meatballs between the pizzas and break the mozzarella over the top. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over each pizza. 5. Working one at a time, transfer the pizzas to the preheated oven and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the crust is perfectly crisp, the cheese is melted, and your taste buds are going bananas. 6.Top with the basil and Parm, serve, and become a neighborhood legend. From Eat Delicious by Dennis Prescott. Copyright © 2017 by Dennis Prescott. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Atlantic Books Today
Valerie Mansour’s Food History in High Definition
From Nova Scotia Cookery,Then & Now:
by Karl Wells
1 cup (250 ml) mashed potatoes 2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream ½ cup (125 ml) sugar ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) salt 6 egg yolks ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) rosewater 3 tablespoons (45 ml) Nova Scotia ice wine 1½ tablespoons (22 ml) sugar, for sprinkling
Nova Scotia Cookery, Then & Now: Modern Interpretations of Heritage Recipes Valerie Mansour Nimbus Publishing
POTATO CRÈME BRÛLÉE Serves 6
For Potato Skin Chips IF FOOD REFLECTS OUR CULTURE OR WHO WE are, then Nova Scotia Cookery, Then & Now, Modern Interpretations of Heritage Recipes, Presented by the Nova Scotia Archives and Select Nova Scotia, is both a reflection of who we are and, more importantly, who we were. Specifically, how we ate to maintain life between the late-18th century and mid-20th century. Food writer Valerie Mansour—with archives staff—has curated more than 80 fascinating recipes covering almost 200 years of Nova Scotia life. Many were recorded insufficiently and required interpretation and redevelopment. This job fell to 25 chefs and food and beverage experts throughout the province— all associated with Taste of Nova Scotia. Mansour’s goal was to modernize or make the recipes relevant in the 21st century without sacrificing their historic integrity. Beginning with the first recipe, Andrew Prince of Halifax’s Ace Burger Co took an ingredient list—that’s all there was—for a 1786 dessert, Irish Potato Pudding, and turned it into Potato Crème Brûlée. One small, delicious addition, a few tablespoons of Nova Scotia ice wine, along with the use of modern cooking techniques, achieved a fine result while maintaining the essence of a 231-year-old recipe. Today’s cooks favour cookbooks with plenty of photographs, the more eye dazzling the better. Nova Scotia Cookery, Then & Now features many remarkable photos taken by photographer Len Wagg of food styled by Jessica Emin. The historic nature of the dishes is suggested by backgrounds using antique tables, flatware, dishes and vintage accessories like old-fashioned lace doilies. Viewing Wagg’s pictures is like seeing the past in high definition. Nova Scotia Cookery, Then and Now is an excellent addition to any cookbook collection, both for its appetizing recipes and its valuable record of how we nourished ourselves throughout history. ■ 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 magazine.
handful potato peels splash canola oil, for frying salt, to taste ¼ cup (60 ml) white chocolate chips 1. Peel and cook a large potato. Save some potato peels for garnish. Pass potato through ricer, then through fine drum sieve while still warm. Heat cream and mashed potato together, bring to boil while whisking to incorporate, remove from heat. 2. In mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, salt, and egg yolks until well blended, add rosewater and ice wine, blend in. 3. Add cream and potato mixture gradually into yolk and sugar mixture, stirring continually. Pour liquid into 6 crème brûlée ramekins. Place in roasting pan. Pour hot water into pan halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake at 325°F (160°C) about 35 to 40 minutes, just until crème brûlée is set but still trembling in centre. Remove from roasting pan, cool, then refrigerate. 4. For potato skin chips, toss skins in canola oil, sprinkle with salt. Bake in oven on sheet pan at 450°F (232°C) until skins are nice and crispy, about 12 minutes. While skins are baking, melt chocolate chips. Dip skins or drizzle with chocolate, lay on parchment to cool. 5. To serve, sprinkle sugar over ramekins. With kitchen torch, heat sugar until it turns amber and surface becomes smooth. Serve immediately, accompanied by potato skins. The original recipe had no baking instructions, so I approached it like a custard. I thought of a few different concepts—a cake, or parfait, or something fun. I liked the crème brûlée the best; it’s an all-encompassing dessert. And I got some Nova Scotia activity happening with our nice, sweet, ice wine. Andrew Prince, Ace Burger Co.
Learning About the PEI Mi’kmaq Learning activities for kids reading Georgina Francis and Sandra L Dodge’s Minegoo Mniku: the Mi’kmaq Creation Story of Prince Edward Island (Epekewitkewey A’tukwaqn) by Heidi Tattrie Rushton
Artwork by Sandra L Dodge
inegoo Mniku, the Mi’kmaq Creation Story of Prince Edward Island (Epekewitkewey A’tukwaqn) is a new bilingual (English and Mi’kmaw) children’s book published by the Acorn Press. The story is retold and illustrated by Sandra L Dodge with translation by Georgina Francis. The book weaves the tale of how Kluskap, the Mi’kmaq people and Prince Edward Island came to be. It’s done at a
level that both younger and older children can understand and it provides an excellent opportunity to learn some Mi’kmaw words. Story extension activities are a way for children and families to delve deeper into a book, beyond simply reading it and setting it on the shelf. Doing activities that explore the ideas in the book allow children to understand it on a deeper level.
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CLAY ISLAND DIORAMA “The Great Spirit forms an enchanted island. It is called Minegoo. It is the most beautiful place the Great Spirit has created. It has dark green forests, and blue sparkling waters, and green grassy shores, and gallons of clouds: wispy clouds, flying clouds, puffy clouds, running clouds, pink and blue and yellow and golden-edged clouds.” —Minegoo Mniku, the Mi’kmaq Creation Story of Prince Edward Island (Epekewitkewey A’tukwaqn) In the story, The Great Spirit creates his people and then uses the rest of the red clay to create Minegoo (Prince Edward Island). This activity will allow children to create their own miniature model of Minegoo, through a diorama (a 3D scene set in a box). Start with the bottom half of an empty box, such as a shoebox, and paint the interior blue for the sky background. Children can then examine the shape of the island that they see in the book. Maps with topography features to inspect PEI in more detail may help too, especially for older kids. They can create the island shape from red clay and place it in the box. Water can be represented by blue fabric and trees can be made from real materials found on the forest floor, such as pine needles (both white and
red pine are native to the island) and twigs with leaves on them. The fanciful multicoloured clouds described in the book can be created by colouring your own cotton balls with a mixture of half a cup of water, a teaspoon of vinegar and some food colouring (or use premade Easter egg dye if you have some around). Stretch out the cotton and then coat it with the mixture either through dipping the cotton in a bowl or spraying it on. Lay them out to dry on a covered baking pan. When ready, have the children stretch them out again to look fluffy and wispy, and glue them to the back of the diorama box on the blue-painted sky. Minegoo Mniku, the Mi’kmaq Creation Story of Prince Edward Island (Epekewitkewey A’tukwaqn) Sandra L Dodge, translated by Georgina Francis Acorn Press
BIRCH CRAFT CONTAINER Near the end of the story, Kluskap shoots his magic arrow at the Sacred Birch and creates a wigwam, snowshoes and a canoe from the tree for his newly created people. The white birch-tree bark has also been used to create containers for food, toys, hunting and fishing gear and musical instruments. This activity will show children how to create a simple birchbark-covered container using an empty tin can, hot-glue gun and birch bark. Gather a large singular piece of birch bark. Be sure to take it from fallen trees only as removing bark from live ones can damage them. You may need to soak the bark in warm water to
soften it up first. Once it’s flexible, place it around the tin can and mark the length and width needed. Trim the edges to even it up. An adult should run hot glue around the can and then quickly and carefully place the bark on the can. Have the children press down on the bark to attach it to the glue. Use elastics to hold it in place and clip clothespins to the top of the can over the bark for added stability. Leave to dry overnight and then remove the elastics and clothespins to have a beautiful birch-bark container for pencils or other utensils.
MORE IDEAS Further extension ideas are to learn some Mi’kmaw words from a member of the Mi’kmaq community or by using the online talking dictionary at mikmaqonline.org; learn more about Kluskap
and the many stories that he appears in; and attend some of the public Mi’kmaw events held around the region. ■
Heidi Tattrie Rushton is a parenting journalist and consultant in Halifax.
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Jean-Luc Trudelâ€™s illustration of Gracie & Glenda as Anne and Diana
Êtes-vous Bilingue? A growing interest in publishing translations of beloved children’s books by Jo-Anne Elder
n 2015–2016, the Canada Council for the Arts subsidized 160 literary-translation projects. In addition, there were a few other translations published in Canada without this funding. Over time, more publishers have become involved in translation and the selection of books has changed: in the 1960s and 70s, more books were translated from French to English; later, nearly twice as many English books, especially non-fiction and bestsellers, were translated in Québec; now the English to French ratio is about 2:3. Through it all, few Atlantic Canadian English-speaking writers—even fewer poets and children’s writers—have had their books translated. Translations of New Brunswick’s Acadian literature, in particular books by the iconic Antonine Maillet and Herménégilde Chiasson, have tipped the balance towards English translations, thanks in great part to Goose Lane’s commitment to providing Anglophone readers with an opportunity to know Acadie’s culture and literature. Recently, two Atlantic publishers, Bouton d’or Acadie and Nimbus Publishing, have shown an exciting interest in publishing translations, companion volumes and bilingual/trilingual texts
of some of Atlantic Canada’s finest children’s writing. These efforts to reach readers in French and English—and sometimes Mi’kmaw and other languages—are to be applauded. Since 1990, the annual Éloize awards honour Acadian artists in several categories. In 2016, the Éloize prize for Support for Arts Production went to Bouton d’or Acadie, the only francophone publishing house in Canada entirely dedicated to children’s literature. The award recognized Bouton d’or’s innovative and dynamic contribution to literature and to the careers of its authors and illustrators. The quality of Bouton d’or Acadie’s publications is exceptional. Among its distinctions is the “Wabanaki” collection of picture books with French, English and Mi’kmaw text, based on First Nations stories. Another book includes a text in French, English and Spanish. Written by Michel Bourque and illustrated by Jean-Luc Trudel, Rideau rouge et pignons verts: L’Histoire vraie de Gracie et Glenda and Meet Me at Green Gables: The True Story of Gracie & Glenda, are brand new publications by Bouton
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Barnaby and the foxes share a comfortable silence.
d’or Acadie. Michel Bourque, who grew up in Cocagne and now lives in Charlottetown, shares the delightful story of Gracie Finley and Glenda Landry, two girls from PEI who take dance classes and singing lessons and dream of performing on a real stage. When a big new theatre is built in Charlottetown Gracie and Glenda, who have not yet met, each imagine the shows they will be able to see. They are invited to audition for Anne of Green Gables and are cast in the roles of Anne and Diana. Like the girls they play, Gracie and Glenda find they are “kindred spirits.”
The book celebrates not only the legacy of Anne of Green Gables, but also the history of the Confederation Centre for the Arts, where the companion books were launched on July 5. Lucy Maud Montgomery’s world-renowned and much-loved book has been translated into French a number of times, most successfully by Henri-Dominique Paratte under the title of Anne: La maison aux pignons verts in 1987. Adaptations for younger readers were also published in both English and French by Nimbus in 2010.
The fox observed Barnaby carefully, almost as if he could understand the man’s feelings. Jean-Luc Trudel’s illustrations of life in Charlottetown in the 70s, coloured in muted, mature tones, are gentle without being overly sentimental, and complement the story perfectly. Trudel also illustrated Le pit à papa, about Prince Edward Island’s iconic singer-songwriter Angele Arsenault. For four to eight-year-old children, The Fox and the Fisherman is a translation of Marianne Dumas’s Le pêcheur et le renard, originally published by Bouton d’or. The English version will be released in the fall by Nimbus Publishing, Atlantic Canada’s premier English publisher of children’s titles. Nimbus has also published French translations of some of its English titles, including Sheree Fitch’s Kisses Kisses Baby-O!, now also available in Mi’kmaw, as well as English translations of several Acadian books. Its recent English version of another Bouton d’or book, My Two Grandmothers by New Brunswick Acadian Diane Carmel Léger, is very telling about New Brunswick’s bilingualism; it is the story of a child’s Scottish Nannie and Acadian Mémère. Illustrated by the author, The Fox and the Fisherman has simple, cheerful and exquisite watercolours of the maritime setting and is set in an appealing layout. The story is told in an understated, moving tone and a language similar to a fable. The book tells of the encounter of a lonely fisherman named Barnaby and a fox who comes to spy on him. Barnaby looks forward to seeing his four-legged visitor at the end of each exhausting and often unsuccessful day on the sea. The two spend their evenings together on the shore, sharing a comfortable silence as well as Barnaby’s catch, as their unusual friendship grows:
When Barnaby’s friend does not show up one evening, the fisherman becomes worried. Once again, he is faced with an empty house and no one waiting for him. After many long nights, the red fox returns with two kits. Now Barnaby has more company and a better catch to feed them all. In this story trust, gratitude and patience grow in times of scarcity as well as plenty, and hope prevails. Marianne Dumas is an art teacher in Chibougamau, Québec, who always dreamed of being a writer. This is her first book. The French book was shortlisted for the 2017 Prix Peuplier, one of three French-language Ontario Library Association “Forest of Reading” awards. The authors themselves wrote the French and English versions of both The Fox and the Fisherman and Meet Me at Green Gables. This is a rare occurrence in Canadian publishing, in which most writers, translators and publishers work in only one language and self-translations are an anomaly. In Bouton d’or’s Wabanaki collection, for instance, three writers collaborated on the text, each of them writing in their first language; Nimbus engaged literary translators for most of its previous translations. When publishers work with literary translators writing in their first language and familiar with the culture and practices of the other language community, it has definite advantages. Translation is a bridge best crossed with a group. With this abundance of children’s books appearing in two or more languages, I look forward to a growing interest in translations of Atlantic Canadian and Acadian writing in all genres. ■
“... and would sit side by side, admiring the sea, like old friends. The fox observed Barnaby carefully, almost as if he could understand the man’s feelings. “The fisherman never needed to speak. “The fox could tell Barnaby was kind, and knew he could be trusted.”
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, New Brunswick.
Meet Me at Green Gables Rideau rouge et pignons verts Michel Bourque, illustrated by Jean-Luc Trudel Bouton d’or Acadie
The Fox and the Fisherman Le pêcheur et le renard Marianne Dumas Nimbus Publishing and Bouton d’or Acadie
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Celebrating Canada, Love Experiments, Maud Lewis, Family Ghosts, Unique Halloween Costumes and Rescuing Lost Animals Lisa Doucet reviews the season’s most anticipated books for young readers
I Am Canada: A Celebration Heather Patterson, illustrated by Jeremy Tankard, Ruth Ohi, Barbara Reid, Jon Klassen, Marie-Louise Gay, Danielle Daniel, Ashley Spires, Genevieve Cote, Cale Atkinson, Doretta Groenendyk, Qin Leng, Eva Campbell and Irene Luxbacher North Winds Press In this year of celebrations in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary, Scholastic has re-released Heather Patterson’s timeless and beautiful poem in a gorgeous new edition that features the art of 13 of Canada’s most celebrated and beloved illustrators. Originally published in 1996, this poem is a joyous ode to being Canadian: “I have space./I have time./I make up my mind./I am free.” In its short, simple sentences, it recounts a long litany of things that we as Canadians can do in this country where we are free to hope and dream and laugh and play and be who we are, savouring what is unique about our home. It stirs the heart and imagination, making it the perfect piece to showcase the artistry of these well-loved children’s book creators.
Appropriately, each double-page spread showcases the unique style of its creator while celebrating a particular aspect of Canadian culture, geography or character. Danielle Daniel's cover illustration captures the radiance and the energy of the Northern Lights, depicting children and woodland animals together savouring the majesty of this land. Barbara Reid creates a joyful winter scene using her trademark Plasticene illustrations. Genevieve Cote interprets the lines “I am free. I am Canada” with her delicate watercolour image of a loon with its wings outstretched. Qin Leng artfully portrays “I am quiet, I am curious, I am friendly, I am funny” with an autumnal forest scene with a gentle energy. Nova Scotia’s Doretta Groenendyk brings to life a nighttime feast featuring an array of foods and a diverse collection of characters around the table, highlighting Canada’s multiculturalism. Her folk-art style captures the sense of community this poem conveys. Together, these beautiful, thoughtfully chosen images breathe new life into this poem and offer an opportunity for readers of all ages to consider what Canada means to each of us. I Met an Elk in Edson Once Dave Kelly, illustrated by Wes Tyrell MacIntyre Purcell Publishing As a young boy lies awake in his tent worrying about starting at a new school in the fall, he hears the voice of an elk named Rusty. Rusty needs help searching for Uncle Todd, who left home many months ago. When Mom wakes up and
learns of Rusty’s plight, the three pile into the car and set off on a grand road trip all around Alberta. Jasper Park, Lake Louise and the Badlands are a few of the many stops they make. They hike a glacier, attend the Calgary Stampede and visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Alas, all good things come to an end and eventually Mom figures out where Uncle Todd must be. After a fun-filled day at the Waterpark in the Edmonton Mall, they say goodbye to Rusty at Elk Island National Park. That night as the boy lies awake in his tent, he knows that “of all the adventures I have had, this was my favourite one.” This lively romp across Alberta with an elk who tries to disguise herself as a boy (by wearing his clothing) is a funfilled adventure tale. Told in rollicking rhyme, the story would work well as a read-aloud in spite of the fact that the rhythm falters in a few spots. The cartoony style of illustrations capture the joyful energy of the text, with flat colours layered upon one another to create a sense of depth, and sketchy outlines that enhance the playful tone.
As the boy and his mom discover the wonders of their new prairie home, readers too will learn about these various Albertan highlights. Hopefully when fall rolls around and our young protagonist starts school, his memories of this amazing road trip and his new friend Rusty will give him courage.
characters. The witty dialogue brings the protagonists vividly to life and keeps the plot well paced and believable. The story is told in a combination of ways, including Hildy and Paul’s initial question-and-answer session and their subsequent Facebook messages. Realistic, lively and hilarious, the ongoing discussions make this book easily accessible. The gradual revelations of the events of their lives provide depth that will resonate with most readers of contemporary YA fiction. An intriguing premise and quirky, oddly endearing characters make this book a joy to read.
36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You Vicki Grant Running Press Teens. Hachette Book Group When Hildy Sangster discovers that the psychological study she signed up for is trying to determine if a romantic relationship between random strangers can be “encouraged,” she is deeply dismayed. When the universe seems to be telling her to give it a try, she decides to take the plunge. Meanwhile, Paul Bergin just wants the $40 participants receive upon completion of the assignment, which consists of answering 36 questions. As partners, Hildy and Paul must answer these questions together. So begins a hilarious, wacky, touching and delightful romantic comedy. In all of her novels for middle grade and young adult readers, Vicki Grant has demonstrated a penchant for creating slightly offbeat characters that manage to be equal parts entertaining and relatable. That strength is on full display here as well. As Hildy and Paul work their way through the assigned questions, readers slowly gain greater insight into their
unhappy Claire hold the key to her own mother’s recovery in the present. This exquisitely wrought story holds something to entice virtually every reader. It is a carefully constructed mystery, a layered and sensitive family drama and a sophisticated time-travel adventure with ghostly elements. Alternating between Annie and Claire’s point of view, Cotter adeptly crafts both girls and their troubled relationships with their mothers. She depicts the remote Newfoundland landscape, Claire’s resentment of it and how it calls to Annie. Moody and atmospheric, the setting becomes as significant and as fully realized as the characters, each of whom are realistically flawed and authentic. The story unfolds at exactly the right pace and is a delicately nuanced tale of secrets, shadows of the past, family ties, heartache and healing.
The Painting Charis Cotter Tundra Books The night of her mother’s car accident marks the beginning of a strange series of events in Annie’s life. She finds herself falling into a painting, rescued from the attic, of a rugged Newfoundland lighthouse. As she enters the world of the painting, Annie meets Claire. Claire thinks Annie is the ghost of her little sister who died several years earlier. Annie visits the past through various paintings, all by Maisie King, Claire’s mother. Claire believes Annie is there to offer her forgiveness and help her deal with Maisie, with whom she is constantly at odds. The more Annie pieces together her family’s puzzle, the more she is convinced that her visits to the young and deeply
The Puffin Patrol Written and illustrated by Dawn Baker Pennywell Books On a cool, damp late summer night, two young friends are nearly bursting with excitement as they prepare to embark on a special quest, one they hope will result in the rescue of numerous lost baby birds. Susan and Ryan have been invited to join Ryan’s older sister and other members of The Puffin Patrol as they comb the shores of Newfoundland’s Witless Bay in search of pufflings, baby puffins that have gotten confused by the lights and landed on shore instead of in the ocean. Each year, dedicated volunteers
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YO UIN READERS R EV EG WS
carefully search backyards, gardens and roadsides for any waylaid pufflings. The tiny creatures are then released back to the ocean. After a night of searching for pufflings, Susan and Ryan go on a tour boat and help with the release of all the rescued birds. Many months later, when the two friends return to Witless Bay, they vividly recall how good it felt to be a part of such an important rescue mission. The wonder of it all still brings smiles to their faces. Baker’s latest children’s book will surely tug at the heartstrings of young readers and their parents. It provides a wonderful introduction to the work of The Puffin Patrol and contains fascinating and helpful information on puffins and some of the perils they face. The “Did You Know?” and “How Can You Help?” sections at the back of the book will give readers the opportunity to think about ways in which we can all do our part to help other creatures. Hopefully, the joy and satisfaction that Susan and Ryan experience will serve as an inspiration to this book’s audience. While the illustrations do not fully capture the energy or excitement of the search for the pufflings itself, the delightful renditions of the puffins and pufflings are striking. This book is most successful as a source of information and may have worked better as a non-fiction book. But children who find it will nonetheless be intrigued by the true story of the work that this organization does. Maud Lewis 123 Carol McDougall and Shanda LarameeJones, Art by Maud Lewis Nimbus Publishing This latest entry in the world of concept books for the very youngest of readers features the distinctive art of beloved Nova Scotian folk artist, Maud Lewis. It is a perfect combination. Lewis’s signature artworks feature vibrant images of everyday life in a rural community: assorted animals, houses
and churches, adults and children at work and play. The rich and vivid colours will capture the attention of infants and toddlers who will be equally enchanted by the bold, uncomplicated images throughout. While each spread features a whole host of things to look at, even very young children will enjoy poring over the pages in search of the given number of objects. The book starts simply, with one hummingbird which is front and centre and easy to spot. So too with the two horses and three kittens. As the numbers get higher, children have a slightly more complex task at hand, counting the number of hooves on the two oxen and the number of roofs and then windows on the houses. A welcome treat for parents who will get to savour the joyful whimsy of these celebrated paintings alongside their young readers, this is a counting book to treasure. It will also serve as a celebration of Nova Scotia and one of the region’s most iconic artists, making it an ideal gift for families who have moved away or visitors wishing to bring back a souvenir of their time in Nova Scotia. The Walking Bathroom Shauntay Grant, illustrated by Erin Bennett Banks Nimbus Publishing When Amayah’s mother suggests that she dress up as a ghost for the Halloween costume contest again this year, she knows she must think of something else if she wants to win a prize. Not a witch or a fairy or a princess but something unique, something “no
one else in the world has ever been in the whole entire history of Halloween!” But when she emerges dressed as a walking bathroom, her creativity is soon met with laughter and ridicule from her classmates. Just as Amayah begins to feel disheartened, her teacher offers a few words of encouragement. And then the judges announce the winners of the costume contest. Celebrated poet Shauntay Grant has crafted a warm-hearted Halloween tale that focuses on one girl’s ingenuity and the courage it sometimes takes to dare to do something different. While Amayah’s originality is ultimately rewarded, she must persevere through the initial mockery of her peers, a purposeful reminder to young readers that it’s good to be different but it’s not always easy. The story is also a touching tale of sibling love and loyalty as Amayah generously shares her prizewinning costume idea with her little sister and the two of them head off to enjoy a night of trick-or-treating together. The playful, cartoony illustrations perfectly complement the tone of the story. Brightly coloured with bold outlines, interesting textures and facial expressions, they whimsically capture the energy and angst that Amayah generates. A delightful new offering for Halloween reading that is not at all scary, this book may serve as inspiration for young readers who have themselves wrestled with the question of what to be for Halloween. Lisa Doucet is the co-manager of Woozles Children’s Bookstore. She shares her passion for children’s and young adult books as our young readers editor and book reviewer.
Reviews Wayne Curtis’ Home Stories
Homecoming: The Road Less Travelled Wayne Curtis Pottersfield Press In “The Train,” the opening story of Wayne Curtis’s new collection, Homecoming: The Road Less Travelled, 12-year-old Jack, fascinated by locomotives, dreams of the world beyond the family farm. Determined that “the land does not own me, not like it does my father,” he buys a return ticket to the nearby town of Bradford. The journey becomes more complicated than he anticipates: trains do not run according to his schedule and not all the adults he meets are as honest and kind as those he knows from home. A dark tone underlies the quiet pastoral story as the worldweary preteen remembers ordering a rope from the Eaton’s catalogue half a lifetime ago as a six-year-old, convinced that “lassoes save lives.” The rope becomes a more sinister presence when Jack ropes a pregnant heifer, trips her, and causes her to miscarry her calf.
“The Train” sets up motifs that permeate the collection: travel to and from home, running to and/or from experience, the malevolent preying on the innocent, dreams threatened by circumstance and inheritance. Filled with detailed descriptions of the land and environment, these tales are set mostly in New Brunswick but range into southern Ontario, particularly the Niagara region and St. Catharines. Many of the stories are linked by two couples: Sean O’Riley and Amy Black, and Floyd and Beverly Harris. In “Night Riders,” troubled teenagers Sean and Amy escape from an orphanage in downtown Fredericton, having stolen the vehicle of church elder, Mr Dennis, who has abused them physically and emotionally for years. Confident their predator is unlikely to turn them in, the two set off on a fugitive road trip, conning and stealing their way to St. Catharines, where they remake their lives but remain haunted by their origins. Curtis frankly confronts the issue of child abuse and its pernicious aftermath. Amy is troubled by nightmares and Sean becomes addicted to alcohol to escape the pain of his memories. In “Country Lanes,” the adult Sean picks a fight in a bar to exorcise his still-palpable rage against Mr Dennis. Although they never fully resolve their childhood traumas, the pair share a deep symbiotic bond. Home is both a memory and an elusive goal in these stories about moving and settling, trying to connect and missing connections. In one of the finest pieces, “At Mount St. Joseph’s,” Floyd travels back to Bradford, NB to visit his elderly, ailing ex-wife and make peace with the place where their marriage ended painfully. In her state of dementia, Beverly fails to recognize Floyd, but is happy to converse about the past with her “strange” visitor. Floyd, a
poet, is drawn into her memories: “There were things that I could remember that she could not, and there were things that she could remember that I could not, so our conversation was a patchwork of one-sided memories that either of us could make contact with. It was hit and miss, like dancing with a giraffe.” While most stories are told from the view of young narrators, Curtis also writes honestly about the relentless downward spiral of old age. At times Curtis posits home as a place, at times home is found in another person: nearly all male characters are emotionally attached to women friends or former lovers. In “Brothers and Sisters” Sean laments his 50 years of unrequited love for Amy, who feels a sisterly affection for him: “Some would say mine has been a meagre existence, but I didn’t see it that way. I had learned years ago that the human body and soul could adapt to any condition. I thought of those old Wallace Stegner lines that Amy used to quote: ‘Home is a notion that only the nations of homeless can appreciate, and only the uprooted comprehend.…What else would one plant in a wilderness…? What loss would hurt more?’” An award-winning novelist and poet, Curtis’s mode is realist and his observations perceptive and detailed. Although nostalgic in tone, these stories do not romanticize the past or idealize the idea of home. These are quiet, reflective stories of flawed survivors. Although Beverly assures Floyd, “It’s never too late to come home,” that “home” is always a shifting and ambivalent idea. ■ Clarrisa Hurley is an actor, playwright and director. She has published fiction, reviews, essays and a wide range of articles. She is a fiction editor at The Fiddlehead.
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Joey Comeau’s Death in the Digital Age
Malagash Joey Comeau ECW Press “And if words mean something to you, if an idea moves you, aren’t you changed, just a little?” This is the question that teen girl, Sunday, poses as she records the words of her dying father. Each night she takes these audio files and parses them, indexing sound bites into a database— every heartfelt “I love you,” every terrible dad joke, every syllable of their secret phrase “Goodbye forever.” Even as the cancer spreads in her father, Sunday’s goal is to code and transfer this database into a computer virus that she will unleash upon the world after he passes. In that way, she hopes he will live forever. Joey Comeau’s latest book takes place in the eponymous town of Malagash. Sunday’s family has moved to her father’s place of birth and settled into his childhood home with her grandmother as they prepare for the inevitable. Malagash is a straightforward but beautifully wrought story about a young girl’s unique means of coping with her father’s mortality. It’s a bittersweet novel but ultimately one that is filled with hope. Sunday is a believable character who lives in her head and spends a good deal
of her time hidden in a closet, where she has three computers set up to write and test code. In her own words, “I am going to summon the dead.” So it is that Sunday takes on a morbid fascination with preserving her father’s memory, even as he’s still living and breathing. Time is precious, life is fleeting, but code can live on eternally. The virus she writes is “a ghost story that computers tell one another in the dark.” In a lot of ways, it’s quite fitting that she would use a virus to spread her father’s memory as it is metaphorically like the cancer that is killing him. She even admits at one point, “the virus will just do what it wants. It will be itself.” Although there is some discussion of coding as it pertains to Sunday’s obsession, Comeau doesn’t overwhelm the reader with computer jargon. Incidentally, the chapter headings are DOS input prompts, which add a nice touch for those who used computers before the advent of Windows. The chapters themselves are quite short, much like the recordings that Sunday makes. They include poignant observations about life and death, such as the formulaic nature of obituaries found in newspapers and the notion of “winning the fight against cancer.” It is easy to slip into cliché when writing about the subject matter but Comeau handles the topic of mortality with grace and humour. The author portrays the relationships between Sunday and her family in a believable manner. Her mother has an almost unwavering strength in the face of cancer, her gay uncle visits to make amends with his dying brother and her grandmother is always there to simply listen. It is the development of the brothersister dynamic though that is perhaps the most heartful. Because of a significant gap in age between them, Sunday begins the book referring to her brother mostly by the nickname “the waif.” However, the circumstances of their father’s terminal diagnosis brings the siblings closer together, particularly when she explains what she’s doing with her recordings.
...a straightforward but beautifully wrought story about a young girl’s unique means of coping with her father’s mortality.
When Sunday accidentally records a conversation her father has with her brother, she begins to understand that her father can never be fully realized in code because she’s only getting one view. This revelation motivates her to capture all of her father’s last words, but without the permission of others. While her actions raise questions about privacy (online and otherwise) as well as digital legacy, Malagash leaves them unanswered. Likewise, any expectation raised by the book’s title of exploring life in smalltown Nova Scotia are thwarted. While the setting is a part of the characters’ experiences, it certainly isn’t the focal point of the overall story. Rather it is a backdrop to the greater story, that of one girl’s attempt at grappling with loss. Malagash is a unique take on death in the digital age. Comeau presents a forthright yet eloquent story about life, death and what we leave behind. Highly recommended. ■ Kat Kruger is chief wordsmith at Steampunk Unicorn Studio, offering a wide gamut of storytelling, workshop and publishing services for clients in the entertainment and gaming industries. She is also an acclaimed YA author, having written the novel adaptation of Bruce McDonald’s film Weirdos as well as the Lycan Code series (formerly The Magdeburg Trilogy), which has been translated into German by Random House.
Alan Doyle’s Spoonful of Sweet Canadian Sugar
A Newfoundlander in Canada: Always Going Somewhere, Always Coming Home Alan Doyle Doubleday Canada This peppy memoir of a life on the road and at home finds Alan Doyle, singersongwriter and erstwhile front man for Great Big Sea, in fine form. Doyle has an eye for details, an ear for a good story and a well-honed ability to play out a yarn of his own. Where Doyle’s first book, Where I Belong, told the story of his poor-buthappy childhood in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland and set the stage for his rise with Great Big Sea, A Newfoundlander in Canada offers some of the gritty details of that rise. Doyle covers everything from the businesslike way the band always conducted itself (finding ways to get paid not just by the venue they were playing, but also beer companies whose banners they flew on stage, paying themselves $250
a week each, while putting all other proceeds into a band bank account for the future) to the realities of life on the Canadian road when your starting point is Newfoundland and Labrador (epic ferry crossings to Cape Breton, followed by hours and hours in cars just this side of breaking down, to crummy motel rooms shared with bandmates). Doyle is an easy companion in these stories. He wisely breaks them up with vignettes from Newfoundland and Labrador. The book is as much a musing on Canada, and Newfoundland and Labrador’s place in it, as it is a memoir of the early days of a soon-to-be-famous travelling band. Though Doyle doesn’t come to any deep or particularly surprising insights about this country or its parts (Ontario is Newfoundland’s most popular and successful sibling; Manitoba is the sister you think you know everything about but you really don’t; Alberta is Newfoundland’s big brother who moved away before you were even born and on whose couch you will inevitably sleep sometime), his travelogue reveals a kind and gentle Canada where the people may occasionally be a little odd, but their hearts are in the right place. There is one fly that sticks in the ointment Doyle slathers on. He writes of Great Big Sea being invited to play on Parliament Hill before the Queen and the band’s rightful excitement about the gig—only to discover organizers planned to drag the band on stage in a dory and introduce them as Newfies. Doyle reminds us that while he was born in Canada, his parents and his grandparents were not. They were born Newfoundlanders, through and through. Not that long ago, Newfoundland and Labrador was still the punch line of a mean national joke. Even in the relating of this tale and the determined way in which Doyle dug in his heels with the show’s producers, he is deft enough to bring a light and comedic touch to the telling. It’s a generous spoonful of sugar Doyle doles out to help the medicine go down.
Ontario is Newfoundland’s most popular and successful sibling; Manitoba is the sister you think you know everything about but you really don’t; Alberta is Newfoundland’s big brother who moved away before you were even born and on whose couch you will inevitably sleep.
And really, that’s as political or controversial or revealing as this book gets. A Newfoundlander in Canada entertains, providing a few comfortable hours in the thrall of a pretty great storyteller and a warm and cozy feeling about the Canada in which you live. For all Canada’s actual diversity, it’s a pretty homogenous rendering Doyle serves up. His final words on the subject are a ringing endorsement of multiculturalism and its success. To a critical reader, this conclusion arises out of a pretty shallow bed. Still, there is good company and charm to be found on every page. ■ 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
Marlene Creates’ Natural Art
Marlene Creates: Places, Paths and Pauses Edited by Susan Gibson Garvey and Andrea Kunard Goose Lane Editions / The Beaverbrook Art Gallery Any artist’s career, considered over enough time, can resemble a journey with an internal, retrospective logic that makes it seem as if their destination had been predetermined. “Here I am,” we think we hear, “and this is how I got here.” The retrospective exhibition, with its traditional chronological path from the earliest to the latest work usually reinforces that impression. The reality is that few artists know where they’re heading when they start their journeys. They follow the work, often stumbling in the dark, with the prospect of failure their constant companion. Their paths meander, double back, run into dead ends. They discover unexpected vistas. But in the retrospective exhibition (or the book that accompanies it), we rarely see the failures, concentrating, as I
suppose they must, on the doors opened by the artist’s successes. This is certainly the case in the new book on the work of Newfoundland artist Marlene Creates. Self-described as an “environmental artist and poet,” Creates works across disciplines, comprising elements of sculpture, performance, written word and video, though the majority of her work is photo-based. Since the late 1970s, Creates has been working in the environment, making ephemeral gestures in the landscape documented with her beautiful photographs in places across Canada and the United Kingdom. Always, it seems, circling around and towards Newfoundland, where she has family roots, and where she has made her home since 1985. The five contributors to Marlene Creates: Places, Paths and Pauses each deal with varying aspects of her career, building a picture of the broad scope of her work. The editors and co-curators of the accompanying exhibition, Susan Gibson Garvey and Andrea Kunard, bookend the publication with thoughtful essays that look at the overall practice of Creates, each from their own perspectives. In between are contributions from British writer Robert MacFarlane, Governor General’s Award-winning poet Don McKay and art historian Joan M Schwartz. The artist herself is a constant voice in the publication, providing short introductory statements to each of the many selections of images documenting various bodies of her work. Divided into five sections, there are 20 bodies of work covered in the book. This is not exhaustive, by any means, but it represents the majority of her projects and, one must assume, the way she wants her career to be described. Such publications, with their mission to present as much as possible about their subject, can run the risk of exhausting the reader. Marlene Creates evades that pitfall through a combination of skillful design, a well-balanced selection of texts
and the sheer visual richness offered by the numerous illustrations. The balance between installation shots, details, fullbleed images and double-page spreads keeps one’s eyes active and engaged. The spare, conversational texts contributed by the artist function like the pauses of the book’s title, providing short breathing spaces before we fully engage, again, in our journey along the artist’s path. Newfoundland, specifically her six acres of boreal forest on Blast Hole Road in Portugal Cove, has been, since 2002, the primary subject matter of Creates’ work. Of the seven projects documented here, three are listed as “ongoing.” One, the Boreal Poetry Garden, actually has multiple projects, comprising poetry and performance, walks in the acreage and an online component. Clearly, this volume documents a journey that has by no means ended, although it has tightened its focus to a small patch of land on the Avalon peninsula of Newfoundland. As Creates wrote about some of her earliest work, “nature is never finished.” This is the sort of book that will repay repeat reading and most especially repeat viewing of the unique images that comprise its bulk. Retrospectives may be guilty of suggesting more order to a particular journey than may have really been there. But with its retrospective depth of vision, this work allows the reader to retrace the artist’s steps, or at least a version of them. The exhibition opens at Fredericton’s Beaverbrook Art Gallery this September, and will tour across Canada through 2020. ■ Ray Cronin is a senior arts administrator 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.
Graham Steele’s Guide to Wading Through Political Bullshit
The Effective Citizen: How to Make Politicians Work for You Graham Steele Nimbus Publishing About halfway through The Effective Citizen: How to Make Politicians Work for You, Graham Steele casually mentions that in some ways, politics is a lot like the mafia. If so, Steele is like the mafia capo turned police informant; he’s spilling the dirt on his former career to help you beat the politicians at their own game. Steele delves into the psychology that drives politicians—what motivates them, what bugs them and why the system transforms good people into political hacks. Armed with experience from a 15-year political career (first as a staffer, then an opposition NDP MLA and ultimately as Nova Scotia Finance Minister for a three-year stint) Steele should know what he’s talking about. The Effective Citizen begins with a short parable about the executive
director of a small Nova Scotia nonprofit trying to get help from the government. After months of runaround and upbeat platitudes from the local MLA, Steele’s imaginary executive director gets nowhere. “You thought you did everything right, but nothing changed. What went wrong?” Steele writes. “You were a victim of political bullshit. I wrote this book so you might better understand how to recognize political bullshit, and what to do about it.” The rest of The Effective Citizen is split up into two halves: first, a frank examination of the way politics actually works and second, a user’s guide for how to navigate the system and make government work for you. It’s a quick, engaging read and the writing is approachable. The first half, especially, is fascinating and relevant for just about anybody who’s interested in politics—even if you’re not an executive director of a small Nova Scotia nonprofit. “Why is self-awareness so rare among politicians?” Steele asks, as he examines the theatre, the empty, partisan jockeying and bad-faith strategy that drives so much in politics. “It’s psychological selfdefence. It would mean spouting bullshit while being fully self-aware that you are spouting bullshit, and being okay with that. Most people can’t do that. “But what politicians are doing is forever weaving and re-weaving a story about themselves. It’s a story about what they’re accomplishing and why. To be an effective citizen, you need to understand the politician’s story, and then figure out how to knit yourself within it.” (In an early footnote, Steele offers a solid academic defence of the word “bullshit” and then uses the word liberally throughout.) At times, the examination of political psychology is almost sympathetic to the politicians; in other moments, it’s utterly devastating, peppered with anecdotes from Steele’s own political career. In its best bits, the book is a refreshingly cleareyed, unsentimental examination of the
worst aspects of political thinking, from somebody who knows from firsthand experience what he’s talking about. If there’s one way The Effective Citizen falls short, it’s Steele’s own selfawareness. After a while, the political anecdotes start to feel too self-serving. There’s no mea culpa, no moment where Steele describes how he became the monster that he’s describing in so many other politicians. And in fact, there are a few times where the author specifically makes a point of saying that he always eschewed the ugliest tricks of the trade. The second half of the book is more narrowly useful to that hypothetical small non-profit executive director. The vast majority of citizens will never have to use the kinds of tactics that Steele describes because most people don’t devote their time to changing legislation or securing government funding for their projects. Steele’s guidance might make it easier but, as he repeatedly emphasizes, there are no secret tricks, no shortcuts to navigating the political world and no guarantees that you’ll be successful. The Effective Citizen is a worthwhile read for anybody who cares about politics and wants to understand how it really works. As Steele explains, the political playing field is tilted heavily in favour of the politicians. All too often when they win you lose. Steele uses his experience to help shift the balance a little bit back in favour of the citizens and calls on the reader to demand more from their governments. “Don’t give your politicians a free pass,” he says. “Their desire to please shouldn’t clash with your desire to get things done. Results count. Words are cheap and are the building blocks of political bullshit.” ■ James McLeod is a political reporter with The Telegram in St. John’s, NL and the author of Turmoil, as Usual: Politics in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Atlantic Books Today
Bill Rowe’s Political Grades
The Worst and Best of the Premiers and Some We Never Had: A Political Report Card Bill Rowe Flanker Press Newfoundland writer Bill Rowe is back again with more political tales to tell. Those accustomed to his brutal frankness in evaluating premiers Joey Smallwood, Frank Moores and Danny Williams have been clamouring for him to dish on the full cast of characters animating that province’s unique political culture. With 10 popular books under his belt, the recovering politician returns with a highly personal, “no punches pulled” report card on the Rock’s strange collection of political leaders since 1949, ranging from the heavyweights to the lesser lights. His latest, The Worst and Best of the Premiers and Some We Never Had, provides another feast for political junkies. Some 42 political leaders are essentially roasted in a highly uneven set of short vignettes concluding with the
author’s rather idiosyncratic and dubious percentage grades. Bill Rowe’s earlier books on Joey Smallwood and Danny Williams were insightful and brutally honest portraits of earth-shaking, messianic political overlords. His current offering falls far short of those standards and tastes, for the most part, like an assorted collection of leftovers. Seven of the province’s best known and memorable premiers, Joey Smallwood, Frank Moores, Brian Peckford, Clyde Wells, Brian Tobin and Danny Williams, reappear in distilled individual portraits. Of the recognized provincial titans, only Joey, Danny and Clyde are covered in any comprehensive fashion. Premier Smallwood is growing on Rowe. After savaging him in The Premiers Joey and Frank, he confesses that critics called him “nuts” for ranking Moores ahead of Smallwood. “Dragging Newfoundland kicking and screaming into Confederation” is recognized as his crowning achievement. Setting aside his personal dislike of Joey (“the prick”), he raises his standing to 85 percent and downgrades Moores’ to 75 percent. Moores’ sleazy and scandal-ridden politics needed to be weighed against his success in ending Smallwood’s 23-year stranglehold on power. The best part of Rowe’s book is his more detailed and nuanced portrayals of the Crosbies, father Chesley A (Ches) Crosbie and son John Crosbie. As a leading St. John’s businessman and political kingmaker, Ches campaigned in the 1948 referendum for Economic Union with the United States and, according to Rowe, “built better than he knew.” Son John fell short in his quest to become premier, but Rowe recognizes his accomplishments as “number two man” in St. John’s and a formidable cabinet minister in Ottawa. Bringing home the bacon also earns John a mark of 85 percent, equaled only by his political nemesis, Joey Smallwood.
Grading contemporary politicians can be risky because their legacies only become clear in the fullness of time.
Rowe is definitely old school when it comes to awarding grades. Sixteen of the forty-two politicians assessed are awarded failing marks, confirming their status as hapless and forgettable politicians. In one rather sad case, former Progressive Conservative leader Ed Byrne, who paved the way for Williams’ 2003 accession to power, is awarded a 25 percent grade for being convicted of fraud for grossly inflating his expense claims. Rowe claims that his report card tends to judge the province’s third-party leaders differently. That may be so, but it is still heavily skewed toward electoral success, favouring those in the dominant Liberal and PC parties. One notable exception, Lorraine Michael, NDP leader from 2006 to 2016, earns praise and a 65 percent rating for winning a coveted seat and holding government to account while battling breast cancer. Surveying this rather irregular and ragged collection of vignettes, it becomes clear that this is not vintage Bill Rowe. Constrained by the laundry-list format, he gives a few notables like Frank Moores and Brian Peckford short shrift in his attempt to get everyone in. Merely cataloguing the political leaders comes at a cost, especially when it comes to drawing linkages and making connections across time. The Crosbies of St. John’s, elder and younger, consume many pages and would be better in a section of their own. The same can be said of the St. Andrew’s College
boys, John Crosbie, Ed Roberts and Frank Moores, all of whom spent their formative years in that exclusive Ontario boarding school. Rowe’s own personal biases colour his judgement, especially when assessing political rivals during his time in the House and in cabinet. He is particularly hard on his one-time cabinet colleague, Ed Roberts, an impressive Liberal politician who served as opposition leader from 1972 to 1977 and was foiled in his 1975 bid to become premier when Smallwood backed Liberal Reformers to divide the vote. Rowe successfully challenged Roberts for the Liberal Leadership in 1977 in what the author describes as “a vicious process” with, it is clear, wounds that have yet to heal. His bitter rival—a Newfoundland public figure respected for his intelligence and erudition, elected in his home riding through thick and thin and serving as a legislator for 25 years—deserved better. Grading contemporary politicians can be risky because their legacies only become clear in the fullness of time. As the afterglow of his colourful and activist PC regime fades, Rowe has downgraded Danny Williams in light of the collapse of oil revenues and the incredible cost overruns incurred with Muskrat Falls. He’s surprisingly soft on Williams’ successor, Kathy Dunderdale, and simply rolls the dice in venturing an assessment of current premier, Dwight Ball. That grade of 50 percent for Ball looks like a conditional pass at best. Then again, attempting to rank political leaders anywhere may well be a mug’s game. ■ Paul W Bennett, EdD, is the director of the Schoolhouse Institute, a long-time political junkie and a Haligonian foolhardy enough to wade into provincial politics in Newfoundland and Labrador. His Grade 11 oral composition trumpeted Joey Smallwood’s glowing success with the Churchill Falls power project.
Hawley, Hurley and Sackett’s Battle with the Fort Mac Blaze
Into the Fire: The Fight to Save Fort McMurray Jerron Hawley, Graham Hurley and Steve Sackett McClelland & Stewart It was one of the biggest natural disasters in Canadian history. It caused almost $9 billion dollars in damage, forced the evacuation of nearly 90,000 people and made headlines around the world. Now this tragic event, which occurred in Alberta just over a year ago, is recounted in a poignant, frank and unique way in the new book, Into the Fire: The Fight to Save Fort McMurray, A First-hand Account of Battling the Beast. Into the Fire is written by Jerron Hawley from Port Hood, Nova Scotia, Graham Hurley of Fort McMurray and Steve Sackett of Calgary. Hawley, Hurley and Sackett are three firefighters, part of a large contingent of Canadian first responders who rushed, without hesitation, into what has been described as “hell on earth” in order to battle multiple, fast-spreading and startlingly dangerous fires, beginning on May 3, 2016. Hawley describes the scene as they rushed towards the mayhem. “Standing on the back of the truck, I looked at
the distraught faces of people in their cars stopped bumper-to-bumper on the highway. People were holding their hands up as if they were praying for us as we headed into that black cloud of uncertainty. I’ll never forget it…It was starting to sink in. This is the one…” What makes this account a page-turner is its gripping narrative; all three men have drawn from verbatim field notes and awe-inspiring behind-the-scenes photographs taken during the many gruelling days of this national-emergency response. The book’s layout and design focuses attention back on what is most important: this rare glimpse into the mind of a first responder as a catastrophic event is unfolding. Their pictures and words, when combined, paint a raw picture of the unwavering brotherhood and sisterhood among our emergency personnel, the fear, exhaustion and resilience, which is part of their world, as well as the sense of community, commitment and unparalleled concern they have shown for peers, loved ones and complete strangers. The three perspectives are intertwined with factual accounts of strength, fear and love. Hurley recounts his reaction, deep into the response and while wracked with exhaustion: “…I felt guilty on some level for leaving…the highway was desolate. I had never seen it so empty for so long. I was about ninety kilometres outside of Fort McMurray when my emotions finally caught up with me. I felt my jaw drop. I remember whispering, ‘Oh my god’ to myself, and I wept. What had happened? The things I had seen and done. Was it even real? The pain in my chest, the tears streaming down my face were proof that it was.” ■ Janice Landry has been a journalist for 28 years and is a former television reporter and anchor with CTV Atlantic. The Legacy Letters is her fourth book.
Atlantic Books Today
EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS BOOK WAS REVIEWED FROM AN EARLY DRAFT OF THE WORK.
Whitney Moran and Christopher Reynolds’ Beer Passion
East Coast Crafted Whitney Moran and Christopher Reynolds Nimbus Publishing East Coast Crafted is a regional beer tome that reads like a guidebook meets a series of business case studies. The book takes you on a journey behind the brew kettles, capturing the voices of the colourful, creative personalities driving the East Coast’s beer scene. It also documents the recent history of brewing in the region by celebrating and sitting down with pioneers and brewing icons like Greg Nash, whose fingerprints are on some of the best beer recipes in the region. Not surprisingly, America has done a much better job of celebrating and documenting icons of its flourishing craft brewing scene, guys like Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman, Boston Beer Company’s Jim Koch and Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione. So it’s wonderful to see the accomplishments of our own brewing icons, like The Granite’s Kevin Keefe, being celebrated in this book. Keefe is like a Ken Grossman of the East—a tinkering, talented, restless entrepreneur who loves to work with his hands and tells it like it is. Recalling potential competitors, Keefe tells the authors: “…
You want to compete with me? Go to England for four months, spend 180 grand and work your ass off? Let’s see!” The book allows plenty of room for firstperson quotes and tidbits from owners and brewers at each of the spots profiled—the average brewery profile runs six to eight pages, including various sidebars. Some move along with a nice narrative clip but many feature a series of long first-person quotes from the brewmaster or owner that would read much better if carefully paraphrased or edited. The writers are both self-professed beer geeks and their passion shines through the pages—Christopher Reynolds, co-owner of Stillwell Beer Bar and a Certified Cicerone, and Whitney Moran, a beer journalist and editor. But in some cases the book reads as if the pair were so delighted by all the inside-baseball stories they captured from the brewers that they couldn’t bring themselves to cut anything. Paragraphs detailing all of the factors that led Propeller’s owner to choose his brewery’s location, the fact that Moosehead almost opened across the street from one of the breweries featured, the names and ingredients of six collaboration beers that the Ladies Beer League have made with breweries in the past—which you will probably never get to drink because they’re unlikely to ever be made again—feel excessive. Most beer readers want to know one thing first: What beer should I drink? The sidebars could have been a place for the authors to list their top three beers from each brewery with availability and a short tasting note. Instead they’re a mix of “brewer’s picks,” where they often explain how the beer got its name (interesting but ultimately unneeded information). Some shortlists would be a handy jumping-off point for beer lovers unfamiliar with the region’s offerings, who will never be able to visit every spot listed. What are the top ten breweries to visit in each province? The most interesting or the most picturesque?
It is clear that the authors are superpassionate about the East Coast, its culture and the businesses and personalities behind its beers. But the information captured here might be better served if the book was in a different format, where the profiles were fused into a larger narrative about the brewing scene and history on the East Coast, organized along a rough timeline, as Tom Acitelli did with the American scene in his book, The Audacity of Hops, or Steve Hindy did with Craft Beer Revolution. This format would give the authors a chance to contextualize a lot of the first-person struggles they’ve captured and look at broader issues like what led to the East Coast’s craft beer boom, why the region was later to the craft brew bandwagon than the rest of Canada, major legal barriers, shifting consumer preferences and the progression of beer styles over time. The original photographs by Jessica Emin are crisp and do a great job of showcasing the East Coast brewpub vibe, the stunning scenery among which some of the farthest flung breweries sit and thirst-inducing beer glamour shots that Instagram beer nerds will swoon over. The book’s crisp layout and design, with beer reviews and esoteric tidbits housed in clean, colourful sidebars and full-page, full-colour photographs, makes this one of the most beautiful drinks books of the year. Beer nerds, anyone looking to start a brewery, East Coast loyalists and even business students will gain a lot from reading the profiles contained in these pages. ■ Crystal Luxmore is a beer and cider journalist who writes for The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, Beer Advocate and MASH magazines. A Certified Cicerone, Certified Beer Judge and Prud’homme Beer Sommelier, she leads guided tastings throughout North America as one half of The Beer Sisters: beersisters.com.
Karen Smythe’s Self-Dissection An excerpt from This Side of Sad, (copyright © 2017, reprinted by permission of Goose Lane Editions), Karen Smythe's hotly anticipated first novel. Smythe was a fiction editor of the Pottersfield Portfolio and has published short stories with some of Canada's best literary journals.
Sometimes, when James and I still shared a bed, I’d lie on my back, eyes closed, and listen to my husband breathing. James had never snored; his respiration had always been regular, slow and subdued—so much so that I’d turn, periodically throughout the night, to watch for the rising and falling of his chest, for the movement of the sheet that covered us, to make sure he was still with me. Later, when he began to have nightmares, he’d wake up panting, out of breath, as if he’d been trying to run away or run after something, or someone. In the beginning I would not have believed we’d come to be so physically separate, James and I, that one day we’d lie side by side not touching, not entwined like a caduceus as we fell asleep. Our story was simple. James and I met in February, a few months after Ted ended our engagement and moved out of the city. I was taking a ceramics class at the Y where James and his best friend Tony worked out with weights. I’d become sick of myself after spending a stir-crazy holiday alone, my first without Ted in five years. My sister, Gina, had given me a Continuing Ed. course coupon for Christmas, to get me out of my apartment. “You spend too much time in your head,” she liked to say about me. I wanted to take the Art History course, so I could sit in the dark looking at slides of masterpieces without having to talk to anyone, but it was full. I already knew How to Use Computers and How to Write for Business, so that left Pottery for Beginners. It was held in an airless studio with a clear-glass viewing pane in the interior wall, facing the hallway. As I kneaded some clay during the first class, I sensed a gaze on my face, so I glanced up and saw a man smiling at me. I smiled back, shrugged, and looked down
again. The next week he hung about in the hallway like a teenager. I finished washing up and approached him as I walked toward the exit. “Hello,” I said in a tone that could have let either of us walk away without losing face, but he wasn’t going anywhere. “The name’s ‘James,’ actually,” he said, his Sean Connery dead on. “As in ‘Bond, James Bond.’” That broke me up and I laughed more than James had expected me to. “She was a pushover,” he joked whenever he told the story. “I wooed her with a silly impression.” Every time one of us recounted how we met, our relationship seemed to gain ground. By telling it over and over in our first few weeks together, we gave our union a gravitas that had seemed absent, I thought, at first. It’s quiet, too quiet, in here. The snowfall has hushed the houses on our street this morning. My street, not ours. It’s just my street now. When we met, James had his own condo uptown, though he all but moved into my tiny apartment soon after. We bought this place a couple of years later, just before we married, and it suited us. A two-bedroom bungalow seemed to be all the space we’d ever need. We didn’t fill it with a lot of furniture, but the house did start to feel confining to James, once he retired and spent seven days a week here. I guess it felt constraining to me, too, when James stopped engaging with the world, and the atmosphere at home became laden with tension I didn’t know how to break. Sleep came as relief to both of us at night. *** I’d attracted James with aloofness, I suppose. Some men are drawn to that quality in women, consider it a test, even. James admitted later that getting me to go out with him had been an irre-
sistible challenge. I looked so intent on triumphing over that lump of clay, he said, and yet when I looked up and smiled at him, my face radiated a potential for joy he wouldn’t have guessed was there, behind the screen of seriousness. “I knew you would be interesting when I saw you in a lab coat instead of an apron, like the other women wore. I had to find out what was going through that mind of yours.” James mentioned that scene again when he proposed to me. “When I saw you smile the first time, I wanted to make you feel that happy all the time. I wanted to be the one who could do that.” When I said yes, he looked as if he’d won a contest. I knew James had been telling Tony everything about our relationship from the get-go, and I wondered if he’d made a bet with his friend about how long it might take to win me over. I won, too, finding James. But in the early days I was highly swayable, and seeing James was a pleasant distraction while I waited for Ted to come to his senses and back to me, to what I thought of as my real life, our life together. The two men crossed paths just once, disturbing my sense of time and place and what I was doing, with whom. James had let himself into my apartment after work, as he often did—he was a teacher, so his day ended earlier than mine—and when I got home he was browning onions for a tomato sauce in my ill-equipped kitchen. He said the phone had been ringing every few minutes, but no one had left a message. This irritated me. The next time it rang, I was brusque and abrupt with my “Hello?” Blood-bubbling anxiety rippled through me at the sound of Ted’s voice asking, “Maslen, is that you?”
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Editor’s Picks Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley flowers, grasses and foliage—150 varieties of them—had good stories to tell, and Brown shares them with eloquence, offering practical insight into preparing and cultivating a flower garden, arranging floral decoration and keeping cut flowers beautiful. The more than 300 photographs of Brown’s farm and arrangements make for a vibrant and gorgeous accompaniment.
BDQ: Essays and Interviews on Quebec Comics Edited by Andy Brown Conundrum Press Compiled as a volume to accompany its BGANG (French comics in English) imprint, BDQ is a loving fête of the richness of Quebecois comics, which combine the best of European highculture aesthetics and the grassroots irreverence of North America, “Tintin meets Robert Crumb,” as the catalogue says. The significance of the collection is twofold: 1. Providing literate applause for work exceptionally well done and 2. Shining a light on the many excellent Quebec cartoonists drowning in obscurity outside the province. The essays and interviews are insightful and the samples of the work richly illustrate the history of the form and place. English-speaking comics fans will delight in the treasures that have long helped distinguish Quebec’s unique cultural output. Firsts in Flight: Alexander Graham Bell and his Innovative Airplanes Terrence W MacDonald Formac Publishing “On the cold afternoon of February 23, 1909, long before there were any airports, the frozen surface of Baddeck Bay was Mother Nature’s perfect runway
for the historic flight attempt.” A story often told among Canadian flight enthusiasts and historians. Lesser known is the fact that Alexander Graham Bell’s interest in flight was decades in the making, stemming from a point of pure fascination. Bell’s many achievements in flight design are overshadowed by his cash-cow telephone patent, which had him set for life to work on other things. Terrence MacDonald does yeoman’s work bringing to light Bell’s enormous contributions to aviation, starting with some “lesser known experiments in the quiet, peaceful community of Baddeck.”
From Seed to Centrepiece Amanda Muis Brown Nimbus Publishing Prospective writers, take heart. Amanda Muis Brown’s lyrical showcase of the joys of local flowers started at a Pitch the Publisher event in Halifax. The author’s exuberant passion for her subject persuaded publishers that
Noble Goals, Dedicated Doctors Jock Murray Nimbus Publishing An institutional history told by an insider runs the risk of boring readers with esoteric details of every road not taken and behind-the-scenes meeting you never wondered about. Dr Jock Murray, a former dean of the Dalhousie Medical School, keeps the narrative tight and focused, emphasizing the significance of the institution outside its own walls over its 150 years, as of 2018. Murray gets to the heart of the matter but provides enough complexity and detail to thicken the plot, with twists of war, disaster and politics. And despite his association with the school, he is frank and forthright about mistakes made over the years. The photos and sidebars ensure a visually appealing story that easily carries the weight of the subject matter.
exploration and discovery. In Late Style, the poet traverses, not for the first time, sick territory, specifically the notion of living through chronic illness, getting old and eventually dying. These walks bring him perpetually back to writing, because “even a death sentence wants to be shapely, clear-headed and full of beauty.” The resultant poems in Dempster’s 15th collection are replete with his characteristic vivid linguistic precision, and the aim is well achieved. Life and death come into clear focus.
Nova Scotia at Night Len Wagg Nimbus Publishing “Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re trying to be so quiet?” asked the singer-poet, long before he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. And ain’t it the truth, how the shallowed angle of light as the sun sets, then the slow removal of what’s left, plays tricks on the eye and mind. It’s a different world of sights and imaginings. Whereas Bob Dylan only hinted at it, Len Wagg captures it for us in stark vistas of Nova Scotia as we’ve rarely seen it—we’re usually asleep by then—sepulchral silhouettes of tourist magnets like the Fortress of Louisburg, whales breaching at the Canso Causeway and a starry view from the Annapolis Valley lookoff, to name a few. Late Style Barry Dempster Pedlar Press A few years ago, two-time Governor General-award nominee Barry Dempster told The Toronto Quarterly, “A poem needs to discover, not offer an opinion.” His work has always been about unflinching emotional
The More Ronna Bloom Pedlar Press A new Ronna Bloom collection— her sixth—is reason to get excited. And pensive. Her work has the quality of insight, perhaps unsurprising given the medical bona fides of the poet, who is a psychotherapist and, in fact, the current poet in residence at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. The More is a lyrical discussion of mindfulness and acceptance amidst traumatic conditions, and afterward. Like her other work, it elucidates the conditions of healing from the worst humanity has to offer. It is poetry with purpose, which might well be summarized as “to overcome.” And All the Stars Shall Fall Hugh MacDonald Acorn Press This is the much anticipated sequel to former Prince Edward Island Poet Laureate Hugh MacDonald’s YA dystopian fantasy, The Last Wild Boy. MacDonald adeptly explores the notion that if the patriarchy were flipped, and all power given to women, the world
would be a very different place. But would it necessarily be better? Is matriarchy really the opposite of patriarchy, or merely what is found at the opposite end of a spectrum? With his explicit use of vivid imagery this poet weaves an intricate page turner and ultimately explores the meaning of freedom and the power of personal choice and responsibility. 150 Canada’s History in Poetry Edited by Judy Gaudet Acorn Press There is such complexity to the history of any nation, especially a colonial one embedded in a longer Indigenous history, that all the facts, figures, dates and names can never do it justice. Enter the poets, unleashing their gift for evocative language and letting emotion convey a deeper meaning. This is history, yes, but from a different slant. Gaudet has included work from diverse sources, the well known and frequently awarded to the folk writers and emerging talents. The voices here are Indigenous, immigrant and settler. In these sophisticated tellings of history and the powerful truths of our past emerge guidance for a better future.
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fall season. Fitzpatrick shows a deft touch with dialogue and the rhythm of spoken language, introspection and regret, things left unsaid and things said that mean more than the listener realizes. He also exhibits a passion for music, via a protagonist who surrenders his rock-and-roll dreams, himself the son of a mother who quit singing due to tragic circumstance and the need to raise him. This is the story of the past and present coming to a head. Terra Magna: Labrador JC Roy Breakwater Books There are 268 towns in Newfoundland and Labrador. French “expressionistcolourist” oil painter Jean Claude Roy has painted pictures of every single one of them. In 2011, Breakwater published his Fluctuat Nec Mergitur, with work representing 40 years of painting in Newfoundland. Every Newfoundland town was represented in the work. Now, the artist is back with a companion volume on Labrador to complete his magnum opus. The full-colour images are stunning and expansive, like the subject matter. The text is presented in English, French, Innuaimun and Inuttitut. This book is a unique testament to the artist’s passion for place and a tribute to the fascinating cultures and vistas of Labrador. The End of Music Jamie Fitzpatrick Breakwater CBC Radio producer Jamie Fitzpatrick’s first novel, You Could Believe in Nothing, won him the Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers in Newfoundland and Labrador. So it’s no surprise his second, The End of Music, is one of the most hotly anticipated books of the
Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists Margo Goodhand Fernwood Publishing Each of Canada’s first five women’s shelters was founded in 1973, the result of a federal granting program initiated by Pierre Trudeau and the drive, passion and utter dedication of the women who started them against all odds. Margo Goodhand left her job as editor of the Winnipeg Free Press—she was the first woman to hold the position—to track down their stories. With little funding or public support, these women gave refuge to wives and partners suffering domestic abuse, women no one else listened to, and started a movement that now consists of more than 600 battered-women’s shelters across the country and has situated Canada in a global-leadership position on the issue of violence against women. Busted: An Illustrated History of Drug Prohibition in Canada Susan C Boyd Fernwood Publishing So, cannabis sativa aka marijuana aka pot aka Mary Jane aka weed aka Bud aka the chronic—whatever you want to call it—will soon be legal in Canada. That’s about 75,000 fewer busts the cops will have to make each year. Suddenly
these wrongdoings are alright. Hm, maybe we’ll learn from our mistakes. Or maybe not. Professor Susan C Boyd has written nine previous books about drugs and drug policies and here reproduces some of the many illustrations and photos from the past few hundred years showing that our nation’s drug policy has always been saturated with prejudice and that prohibition has been a largely harmful approach.
Haunted Ground: Ghost Stories from the Rock Dale Jarvis Flanker Press This is one creepy book. Eerie, right, chills up the spine. Ghost stories, you find them everywhere. But when you’ve got an island commonly known as the Rock, they pour from every crevice
and crag. Folklorist Dale Jarvis is one of those fellas who knows them all and knows how to achieve maximum shiver in the telling. He’s got stories of spectral Viking longships, haunted shores, headless pirates and the Old Hag herself. But sometimes the fear comes from the unknown forces behind the clues: ominous premonitions, odd plays of the light and strange voices from the misty traplines. The tales are drawn from first-hand accounts and archival record, a downright mystical mix of anecdote, oral tradition and history. Linger, Still Aislinn Hunter Gaspereau Press
Everything We’ve Loved Comes Back to Find Us Allan Cooper Gaspereau Press Allan Cooper, author of more than a dozen poetry books and two-time winner of the Alfred G Bailey Award, is an experienced poet whose talent lies in distilling experience to the simplest, most direct possible wording, always evocative of so much more. When he asks his departed father, “Are you still following me,” readers too feel the presence. The simplicity is deceptive, more a form of grace than efficiency, a steady and elegant burning focus on the details that matter most and the anguish and delight they hold under the gaze of the observant poet.
Like some cagey CSI detective with newfangled technology working a cold case, Aislinn Hunter is the master of finding newness in the familiar, insight in the mundane. In Linger, Still, her third book of poetry (seventh book overall), Hunter scours old evidence and histories, taking for granted the practical reality that nothing is impossible, offering slowly escalating revelations in search of greater beauty and meaning, exclaiming philosophical insight into everything form the domestic to the deeply ecological. In the end, a loving, gentle send off involving a deer. Easy, resolute and full of recognition. Where Evil Dwells: the Nova Scotia Anthology of Horror Edited by Vernon Oickle MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Where Evil Dwells does something all anthologies should: bring together the usual suspects and the shifty outsiders who can really stretch out a genre or a trope. In this collection of scary stories, writers explore the macabre and the monstrous, the ghoulish and ghostly, drawing from folklore, superstition, the paranormal and fantastical. Editor Vernon Oickle deftly calls upon his fellow veteran spooksters like Steve
Vernon, Sherry D Ramsey and Darryl Walsh, but also enlists recognizable but unexpected contributors like Frank Macdonald (A Forest for Calum) and Darren Greer (Advocate). The result is a delightfully frightening set of stories with some serious literary chops. Identify Lesley Choyce Orca Books In Choyce’s latest YA novel we meet Ethan, who suffers from anxiety and selfmedicates with downers, and Gabe, a girl with short hair who wears flannel shirts and blue jeans. Ethan is dealing with his parents’ constant fighting; Gabe is dealing with bullies and figuring out her gender identity. Their newfound friendship allows them to stand up for one another and in doing so better take care of themselves. It’s a bit of a modern-day parable, but one that succeeds by allowing for realistic rather than stock characters. This well written short novel is an excellent introduction to gender fluidity and/or anxiety and is empathetic to victims of bullying.
Atlantic Books Today
Stuff About Books Snook’s low down on going from Corner Boy to comic to publishing more books than his high school principal by Pete Soucy
owYaGettin’On? My name is Snook, and I’m what you might call a proper downtown, St. John’s, Newfoundland “Corner Boy.” That means I mostly just hang around, “shootin’ the breeze,” as they say. Don’t do too much at all, really—just try and enjoy easy days. Don’t even have to stop to smell the roses, right? And I’ve always been this way— forever looking for a light, a laugh, and a milder mood (if you know what I mean). It’s how Mother Nature knit me. Wicked. But way back, maybe thirty years ago now, someone who knew I told stories asked me to come to a supper-type thing, and sling a few yarns around, once the eating part was over. “Why not?” says I. “Free food, and a bunch of people not fed up with me yet? Deadly.” So I did that, and we all had a good enough time. One fella might have ruined his shorts, I think. Lo and behold, I get a phone call with another offer—with a few dollars in it to boot! Now, sir… Long story short, ever since then I have been talking to, laughing at, and getting paid by people for entertaining them. I’ve ended up on TV and radio fairly regularly, and even put out some CDs and DVDs and whatnot, for them with bucks to burn. Blows my mind every day, to be honest. Who’d a thunk it? I guess if you just goof off, drink a few beer, and know some jokes, you too could end up with a comedy career. Fast forward, now, to maybe two years ago, or so. The local TV guide and entertainment magazine, called the Newfoundland Herald, invites me to write a weekly column—me! “Yes boy,” I says. “How hard can it be?” I figure it’s still telling stories, but in a “wrote-down” way, right? Simple. So I start. Well, doesn’t take long for me to figure out it’s a bit of a different beast altogether, this “author” racket. It takes time! There are deadlines! And you have to think, and everything. What to wax on about? What to steer clear of ? How to word it so readers, should there be any, dig in at all, and bother to finish? In other words, how to make a piece of writing “fit to eat?” The best notion I ever had was to start reading more, myself. A whole lot more. Get some ideas as to what works and what don’t, right? So I launch into some
How Ya Gettin’ On? Snook Flanker Press
books and magazines and whatnot. Man—what a mother load of magic I was missing out on! I had plum forgot about the joy of books, and the rollercoaster ride that is a good tale told well. I found writers I can’t get enough of, now, imaginations that spark up my own, and respect for how they just glued me to their pages for the last seven hours. I found groups of people online who love the same books and can explain just what makes them wicked. I talk to people about books and writers now—seriously. I do. I confess to trying to write like some of my favourite authors, and to using some of the words I learned from them. They taught me a fair bit, and made my own struggling efforts better, at least. Some stuff I’ve cobbled together might even be considered half-decent. And guess what (and here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write) there’s a real book, of my columns, coming out any day now. An actual book! By me! Published! And they say God got no sense of humour. Mudder is over the moon, sir. You’d swear I was becoming a doctor. The lads are shocked, and the girlfriend, Bette, can’t stop laughing for the life of her. Oh, and as I mention in the dedication of my book, I want to acknowledge my High School Principal, Mr Mullett. He always said I’d “Never do nudding, never be no one, and always be proper useless.” Uh huh. Where’s your book to, Mullett? Yeah— didn’t think so. Life is some strange. The world is magic, and writing just might be the best of it. It’s certainly made a chronic reader out of me, and a believer in the craft. I wonder if my little book could pay forward that gift for someone else? I hope so. Write on. ■ Snook has been an entertainer and comic commentator in Newfoundland and Labrador for thirty years. His first book, HowYaGettinOn? Snook Writes About Stuff, arrives this fall from Flanker Press.
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