Memoir

#940 Mack the transcontinentalist

Riding the Continent by Hamilton Mack Laing, edited by Trevor Marc Hughes, foreword by Richard Mackie Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2019 $19.95 / 9781553805564 Reviewed by Steve Koerner All B&W photos courtesy of H.M. Laing Collection, Comox Archives and Museum Society * The hit 1969 movie Easy Rider featured two hippies, the self-styled “Captain America” and…
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#932 Ableman’s urban agriculture

Farm the City: A Toolkit for Setting up a Successful Urban Farm by Michael Ableman Gabriola: New Society, 2020 $19.95 / 9780865719392 Reviewed by Rose Morrison * While Michael Ableman’s Farm the City: A Toolkit for Setting up a Successful Urban Farm is written as a primer for those wishing to start an in-town farm,…
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#930 The relevance of Ken Lum

Everything is Relevant: Writings on Art and Life, 1991-2018 by Ken Lum, with an introduction by Kitty Scott Montreal: Concordia University Press, 2020 $64.95 / 9781988111001 Reviewed by Phyllis Reeve * Where on earth is he? The Vancouver Art Gallery is staging an interview with Vancouver-born art star Ken Lum. It’s May 2020, deep into…
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#924 Fractured angles & pools of time

A Song from Faraway by Deni Ellis Béchard Fredericton: Goose Lane, 2020 $22.95 / 9781773101545 Reviewed by Theo Dombrowski * Novel? Collection of short stories? A Song from Faraway is, in a conventional sense, neither of these. Or both. And this isn’t the only lack of convention in Deni Ellis Béchard’s new book. Pieced together…
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#915 Shutting down parliament, 1970

The Abortion Caravan by Karin Wells Toronto: Second Story Press, 2020 $24.95 / 9781772601251 Reviewed by Donalda Reid * Karin Wells has written an engaging book, The Abortion Caravan, about the 1970 national women’s march on Parliament aimed at forcing changes to Canada’s abortion laws. Her book takes us back fifty years into a period…
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#913 Northern wilderness advocate

Crossing the Divide: Discovering a Wilderness Ethic in Canada’s Northern Rockies by Wayne Sawchuk Smithers: Creekstone Press, 2020 $21.95 / 9781928195061 Reviewed by Luanne Armstrong * Who wouldn’t want a chance to sit around a campfire with Wayne Sawchuk, and listen to him tell stories? Horses munch grass in the background, his faithful dog, Chancey,…
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#912 Now that the coast is clear

Sailing with Vancouver: A Modern Sea Dog, Antique Charts and a Voyage Through Time by Sam McKinney Victoria: TouchWood Editions, 2018 (first published 2010) $20.00 / 9781771512640 Reviewed by Brian Harvey * I once got the urge to see all the apartments and houses where the British writer Malcolm Lowry had lived during his years…
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#906 East Kootenay to Himalaya

Blue Sky Kingdom: An Epic Family Journey to the Heart of the Himalaya by Bruce Kirkby Madeira Park: Douglas & McIntyre, 2020 $34.95 / 9781771622691 Reviewed by Éric Spalding * In Blue Sky Kingdom, Bruce Kirkby goes to a Buddhist monastery high up in the Himalayas. Accompanying the author on the trip are his wife…
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#896 A Mennonite father and son

Dad, God, & Me: Remembering a Mennonite Pastor and His Wayward Son by Ralph Friesen Victoria: FriesenPress, 2019 $20.49 / 9781525560880 Reviewed by Randy Janzen * After reading Ralph Friesen’s Dad, God and Me, I was struck by the common human urge to understand the past and reconcile ourselves with long-ago events. It is no…
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#890 Podiums, prototypes, and Plato

ESSAY: Unique ways of prototyping by Thomas Girard * Editor’s note: When asked to define “prototyping” as used in this essay, Thomas Girard replied: When I talk about “prototyping” here, I’m talking about it in part as I’ve learnt it in traditional design education, at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, years ago. In…
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#888 Roughing it on Vargas Island

Close to the Bone by Dorothy Kirk Victoria: Vargas Publishing, 2020 $14.00 / 9781777011802 Reviewed by Rose Morrison * “I have only felt regret and longing,” writes Dorothy Kirk, “for things I never tried, or words I never spoke.” Kirk’s Close to the Bone is an account of her first year of wilderness living on…
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#877 A primer for modern teachers

You Suck, Sir: Chronicles of a High School English Teacher and the Students who Schooled Him by Paul Bae Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press (Robin’s Egg Books), 2020 $19.95 / 9781551528076 Reviewed by Myshara Herbert-McMyn * A comedian, podcaster, writer, and actor, Paul Bae also taught English at Vancouver’s largest public school. He co-created and co-wrote…
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#876 Stainsby’s carbons and files

MEMOIR: Writing My Father by Meg Stainsby * After twenty years of carting it around unopened, I unpacked a stale cardboard box stuffed with crackly, yellowed sheets of typescript — some still clinging to their carbons, all faint and fusty — and began a solitary trek across a forty-year expanse of written terrain that my…
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#875 Chinese but not Chinese

Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood: A Memoir of a Past Lost and Found by Wayson Choy Toronto: Penguin Random House, 2018; first published by Viking Penguin, 1999 $21.00 / 9780735234666 Reviewed by Jessica Poon * When I was six years old, ostensibly as a non sequitur, I announced, “I’m English!” to every family member circling…
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#872 Making some good trouble

Disabled Voices Anthology by sb. smith (editor), with a foreword by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha Nanoose Bay: Rebel Mountain Press, 2020 $18.95   /   9781775301950 Reviewed by Margot Fedoruk * I want to see young people in America feel the spirit of the 1960s and find a way to get in the way. To find a way…
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