Fiction

#527 Canadian graffiti

Graffiti, Canadian Style by Ernest Hekkanen First published in The Ormsby Review, April 9, 2019 * It was twenty years ago, in 1999, that Ernest Hekkanen wrote this diatribe about why Vancouver public art is so godawful, why Canada’s granting agencies can be foolish or corrupt, and why he rejected a contract from a respected…
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#526 Lies, tenure, and dark energy

Black Star by Maureen Medved Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2018 $20.00 / 9781772141122 Reviewed by Theo Dombrowski First published Apr. 7, 2019 * Encountering the barbed and dazzling shards that make up the word world of Black Star, a reader might feel on uneven ground. And for good reason. This is a novel that jolts, jars,…
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#502 Patrick Lane (1939-2019)

Patrick Lane (1939-2019) An obituary by Alan Twigg * Patrick Lane was born on March 26, 1939 in the Kootenay mountain town of Sheep Creek, near Nelson, and grew up in the B.C. Interior, primarily in Vernon. His father, an ex-miner, had moved to the dry Interior because he was suffering from silicosis. Lane couldn’t…
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#489 Trouble at Hell’s Gate

The Death and Life of Strother Purcell by Ian Weir Fredericton, New Brunswick: Goose Lane Editions, 2018 $22.95 / 9781773100296 Reviewed by Valerie Green First published Feb. 18, 2019 * Whether or not early British Columbia can, in reality, be lumped into a western American formula is for the professional historian to decide. Meanwhile, if…
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#484 A life in books: George Bowering

He Speaks Volumes: A Biography of George Bowering by Rebecca Wigod Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2018 $24.95 / 9781772012064 Reviewed by Kathy Mezei First published Feb. 12, 2019 * What a great title. For George Bowering does speak volumes; he is out-spoken, loud, witty, loquacious, a “talk producer” as Virginia Woolf once described a character. And, as…
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#478 Burquitlam burb bubble

Property Values by Charles Demers Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018 $17.95 / 9781551527277 Reviewed by John Douglas Belshaw First published Feb. 4, 2019 * We need to talk about … Burquitlam. It’s liminal. Which is a scholarly word meaning it occupies “a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.” (Thank you,…
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#470 Gender, manga, teen idiom

Twin Studies by Keith Maillard Calgary: Freehand Books, 2018 $24.95 / 9781988298313 Reviewed by Theo Dombrowski First published January 22, 2019 * We can never say what spark lies behind the gestation of a novel — a character, an incident, a storyline, perhaps a social or political issue. Some novels read as if they sprang…
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#469 From Passchendaele to Paris

A Piece of the Continent by Paul Nicholson $24.50 / 9781775192305 Available from Amazon.ca and https://www.apieceofthecontinent.com/ Reviewed by Valerie Green First published January 19, 2019 * It is obvious from the first page of Paul Nicholson’s book that he is passionate about the two topics he covers in A Piece of the Continent: trench warfare…
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#466 A tribute to Richard Wagamese

INTERVIEW: Shelagh Rogers by Starlight: CBC’s Host of The Next Chapter Shines a Light on Indigenous Authors by Margot Fedoruk * Shelagh Rogers walks in with an air of authority and greets everyone warmly as she stands in line at the local coffee shop on Gabriola Island. Rogers wears the iconic pointy blue glasses that…
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#465 Urgent flight to the Congo

White by Deni Ellis Béchard Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2018 $19.95 / 9781772012088 Reviewed by Paul Headrick First published Jan. 15, 2019 * The narrator of White has a dramatic CV: freelance war reporter, novelist, and memoirist. It’s a background that closely matches the author’s, even down to the contents of their memoirs. Béchard’s explores his difficult…
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#463 Escape from the Nechako Valley

Starlight: An Unfinished Novel by Richard Wagamese Toronto: Penguin Random House (McClelland & Stewart), 2018 $19.95 / 9780771070877 Reviewed by Eldon Yellowhorn * Between his birth on October 14, 1955 and March 10, 2017, when he died at his home in Kamloops, Richard Wagamese tried to live his life on his own terms.[1] His too-short…
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#430 Looking back at the GGs

The Governor General’s Literary Awards of Canada: A Bibliography by Andrew David Irvine with the assistance of Edmond Rivère and Stephanie Tolman Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2018 $79.95  /  9780776627397 Les Prix littéraires du Gouverneur général du Canada: Une bibliographie by Andrew David Irvine, with the assistance of Edmond Rivère and Stephanie Tolman Ottawa:…
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#413 Cuban saints and stones

Angela of the Stones by Amanda Hale Saskatoon: Thistledown Press, 2018 $19.95 / 9781771871655 Reviewed by Linda Rogers First published November 3, 2018 * Appropriately, “La Huelga,” The Strike, the first story in the collection Angela of the Stones, begins with a raised fist, the collective slogan SEREMOS COMO EL CHE now applied to transforming…
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#410 Journey to Fernie

Ordinary Strangers by Bill Stenson Salt Spring Island: Mother Tongue Publishing, 2018 $23.95 / 9781896949710 Reviewed by Theo Dombrowski First published October 30th, 2018 * The title is the key. This is a novel about the ordinary, yes, but also about people who are, in many different ways, “strangers:” within the first few pages an…
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#405 Crows and crime scenes

Crow Jazz by Linda Rogers, illustrated by Rick Van Krugel Salt Spring Island: Mother Tongue Publishing, 2018 $23.95 / 9781896949659 Reviewed by Paul Headrick First published October 22nd, 2018 * Linda Rogers’s Crow Jazz is a challenging, perplexing, and glorious collection of stories, perhaps just what we would expect from a poet whose startling juxtapositions…
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