By Gaslight by Steven Price

51omsiecjml-_sy346_I happened to meet Steven Price at a book reading that he gave at Westdale Secondary School in the fall of 2016. He was a very thoughtful and precise thinker and seemed introspective, but he is a poet after all. The prose in his latest book, By Gaslight, has the imagery and emotion of poetry, but it has also captured the intrigue of an old world detective chasing his prey. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good detective mystery, but who also loves to have a world created for them in full colour (albeit this novel does have pervasive foggy weather). A review by the Quill & Quire is HERE.

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The Comeback

John Ralston Saul lives up to his reputation for breadth and originality of thought, arguing that what are typically presented as “Aboriginal issues,” are actually political battles that matter to us all.  For example, Idle No More’s stance against Bills C-45 and C-27 was more than a disempowered group reacting to the infringement on their rights, it was a stand against a corporatist agenda and the type of authoritarian forces in government normally associated with “Argentina’s Peronism.”

When Aboriginal people take to the streets to protest broken treaty promises, it isn’t a national headache, but a public good. The demonstrations remind of us of the complexity of our history, and provide a welcome counterbalance to the corporatist, managerialism that is a growing part of the nation state under a system of global capitalism. The National PostThe Comeback

Celia’s Song

Mink is a witness, a shape shifter, compelled to follow the story that has ensnared Celia and her village, on the West coast of Vancouver Island in Nu:Chahlnuth territory. Celia is a seer who – despite being convinced she’s a little “off” – must heal her village with the assistance of her sister, her mother and father, and her nephews. While mink is visiting, a double-headed sea serpent falls off the house front during a fierce storm. The old snake, ostracized from the village decades earlier, has left his terrible influence on Amos, a residential school survivor. The occurrence signals the unfolding of an ordeal that pulls Celia out of her reveries and into the tragedy of her cousin’s granddaughter. Each one of Celia’s family becomes involved in creating a greater solution than merely attending to her cousin’s granddaughter. Celia’s Song relates one Nu:Chahlnuth family’s harrowing experiences over several generations, after the brutality, interference, and neglect resulting from contact with Europeans. (source)9k=

Smoke River

Based on the unrest in Caledonia, Ontario where native land was being used for a housing development, this novel explores the many characters and issues at stake at the time. It is a fiction in every sense of the word, so the political aspects are muted and don’t overpower the character development and storyline.

But even if the story were not a gripping exploration of town/reserve relations, Smoke River would be a glorious read just for Foss’s imagery, which conjures up a hot, humid Ontario summer that seems to shimmer off the page: “Finally it arrives, the slightest mutiny of scent: sweet clover seeds, germinating in the backhoed earth, an insurrection of moisture beneath the drained and filled pond, an invasion of pollens breezing in off the river.” That connection to the land, which Shayna and Coulson share, is another powerful theme that permeates the novel. (source)Smoke River