Saturday, June 23, 2018


Rita Moir. BUFFALO JUMP: A Woman's Travels. Coteau 1999. 

Love this Canadian non-fiction about writing, women's stories, and travelling territory so familiar to me--#3 highway past Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump to Medicine Hat, driving side roads to Winnipeg and beyond. Love the image of her writing meandering like the old Assiniboine River with its braids, oxbows, and wide deep valleys. Love the motif of the buffalo and putting on the skin, the robes, the clothes of the past. Love the truth that "the voices won't come to you unless you sleep alone." Sigh. 

Friday, June 15, 2018


Donna Gannon. CONVICTIONS: Journey Beyond Innocence. 

Hearing the writer read from her novel CONVICTION at the Chilliwack Book Man Local Writers Festival inspired me to order the book and read it on Kindle. So convenient, and fast. The story follows Shelley as her common-law husband is investigated, tried, convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison. Shelley's job as a social worker / counsellor, along with the tribulations of the step-children, and the traumas of her own family including her younger brother, occupy her emotional energy. It does seem to me that professionals with this type of training must struggle to separate private and professional boundaries, always shouldering the burden of being the one with the answers who is expected to "fix" things for everyone else. Or, at least, to help them fix things for themselves. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Harry Rasky. The Song of Leonard Cohen. Mosaic, 2001.

An account of interactions between filmmaker Rasky and singer songwriter Cohen while making a film of a concert tour. Some insights in the poet's answers to probing questions. Additional information about an aborted film of Dylan in the early '70s. This slim volume will take its place along my 'sacred texts' shelf. 

Saturday, June 9, 2018


Mark Sakamoto. Forgiveness: A Gift from My Grandparents. HarperCollins, 2014.

A memoir of growing up in Medicine Hat, Alberta, in a dysfunctional family, bookended by Canadian grandparents with similar but different experiences during World War II. Grandpa Ralph MacLean was a POW in Japan. Grandma Mitsue Sakamoto and family were removed from Vancouver and resettled in Alberta. 

The sixth selection for the Hawthorne Book Club. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018


Ian Rankin. WATCHMAN. Orion, 1988/2004.

A very early Rankin without Rebus. Miles Flint is a watchcman, a spy for MI5 whose main work is surveillance. He is pulled off a botched assignment, redirected to Belfast where he evades an ordered assassination, and returns to London then Edinburgh to root out the bad guys. Not as interesting a character as Rebus. Nor do I find spy capers very interesting. Without proper supervision, the worst of humanity seems to surface. An interesting picture of Great Britain during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. 

cover image of reeds in water

Friday, May 11, 2018


Mary Oliver. BLUE HORSES. Penguin, 2014.

OMG this is beautiful. I just want to find someone, a group, and be allowed to read these poems aloud to them. Sigh. 

cover of Mary Oliver's Blue Horses the Franz Marc painting

And I paid New price for it (very unusual for me to do that). And I chose it from several other Mary Oliver titles. It was the cover image I could not resist, and the poem about the painter and his blue horses is equally beautiful: "I would rather die than try to explain to the blue horses what war is."  The volume seemed to be calling to me, longing to be included in the CNF piece about horses I was working on at the time. "Bearing the Brunt."

Mary Oliver knows and writes about mindfulness and choosing to see and celebrate the miracles which surround us.


Michael Crummey. The Wreckage. Anchor, 2006.

May 2018 selection for the Hawthorne Book Club. A novel of Newfoundland and WWII. 

cover image of The Wreckage showing soldier kissing a girl

The Wreckage by Michael Crummey is a novel of Newfoundland and World War II. It opens in the Pacific, with a Japanese soldier with a Canadian connection promoted to work in a POW camp.

The main plot line involves a young couple, Wish and Sadie, who meet and are attracted to each other in an island outport. Religious prejudice is one of the problems keeping them apart. Wish, thinking he has killed Sadie’s brother Hardy, runs away to Halifax and enlists. Gets to Singapore. Is captured and sent to the POW camp where the Canadian-Japanese guard tortures him and his friends. 

In the meantime, Sadie escapes the island and moves to St. John’s, looking for and then waiting for Wish. With nothing heard in over three years, she gives in to her American suitor and, pregnant, moves with him to the States where they marry and raise a family. Fifty years later Sadie returns to St. John’s with Johnny’s ashes and she and Wish re-connect.

We had an interesting discussion centering around: writer bio; writing style where emotions are concerned; character motivation; links between settings in space and time and between the stories of various characters (use of post-modern writing techniques); and the issue of “sadistic arousal” which is crucial to Wish’s self-image and decisions. Readers agreed that they would read more Michael Crummey.


Rita Moir. BUFFALO JUMP: A Woman's Travels . Coteau 1999.  Love this Canadian non-fiction about writing, women's stories, and trav...