Mudeater
University of Regina Press / 26 April 2017

Mudeater: An American Buffalo Hunter and the Surrender of Louis Riel by John D. Pihach Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $27.95 ISBN 9-780889-774582 It’s significant when an illustrious individual appropriates an ancestry, ie: Archie Belaney reinventing himself as Grey Owl. Frontiersman Irvin Mudeater had Grey Owl beat: Mudeater switched back and forth between Indian and European ancestry each time he crossed the 49th Parallel. Born to a Wyandot Chief in Kansas, Mudeater’s story encompasses buffalo hunting, stage coach driving, the Civil War, and criminal activity that saw him flee to Canada in 1882 and become “Robert Armstrong,” the white man who settled in Prince Albert and was credited (with two others) for bringing Louis Riel into custody in 1885. Yorkton writer John D. Pihach became fascinated with Mudeater/Armstrong’s Wild West and Canadian stories after learning that his neighbor was the great-grandson of the famous man, and that Armstrong had written an accessible and unpublished memoir. Considering Armstrong’s storytelling penchant, “some of his claims relating to certain historical events appear unconvincing,” but Pihach believes the “savage nature” of his “Indian” encounters are reliable. The result is the book Mudeater: An American Buffalo Hunter and the…

Speaking In Cod Tongues
University of Regina Press / 20 April 2017

Speaking in Cod Tongues: A Canadian Culinary Journey By Lenore Newman Published by University of Regina Press Review by Michelle Shaw $29.95 ISBN: 978-0-88977-459-9 I first heard Lenore Newman interviewed on the radio. I was driving so, granted, I was a captive audience but her words, and her topic, immediately intrigued me. She was discussing the idea of whether we had a national Canadian cuisine. Sure, maple syrup is as Canadian as you can get, but that’s an ingredient. Poutine is a perennial Canadian favourite, but it’s just one dish although it has been adapted in countless ways from the east coast to the west. And that’s one of the things Newman discovered as she researched (and ate) her way across Canada. We’re developing what she describes as a Canadian creole, adapting recipes and/or ingredients to create something new, something so unique that, in a sense, it loses it’s uniqueness and becomes an accepted part of a region’s culture. The Japadog in Vancouver, for instance, mixes Japanese flavours with a traditional street hotdog. You can get a terimayo dog for example, that includes teriyaki sauce, mayonnaise and seaweed. When Newman conducted a survey of Japadog customers she discovered something rather…

Firewater
University of Regina Press / 28 February 2017

Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People (And Yours) by Harold R. Johnson Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $16.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-437-7 Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People (And Yours) packs a wallop as Harold Johnson unveils the harsh truth about alcoholism on Aboriginal reserves. He exposes the truth, and the truth hurts. But by having the courage to confront alcohol head on, he stares it down into submission. Johnson himself is an Aboriginal who has struggled with the crippling effects of alcohol addiction, so he knows what he’s talking about and speaks with authority. Although he directs his highly controversial book primarily at Aboriginals, non-Aboriginals could also benefit greatly from it. Johnson is at heart a storyteller, using the storyteller’s technique of repeating certain words and phrases to create a hypnotic effect on readers. He elaborates on the devastating effects alcohol has had, and continues to have, on Aboriginal people. Johnson’s shocking statistics are real eye-openers. He estimates, for instance, that fully one-half of all Aboriginals on Treaty 6 territory will die from an alcohol-related death, whether they drink or not. He also produces statistics showing that 35 per cent of Aboriginals don’t use…

Re-Orienting China: Travel Writing and Cross-Cultural Understanding
University of Regina Press / 25 January 2017

Re-Orienting China: Travel Writing and Cross-Cultural Understanding By Leilei Chen Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $80.00 ISBN 9-780889-774407 University of Alberta professor and writer Leilei Chen was born and raised in China, but admits she’d always held an idealized vision of Canada. When a doctoral scholarship brought her to Edmonton, that vision was shattered by Canada’s social problems and historical racism – even the weather didn’t measure up to her red-leafed dreams. Canadian realities made her consider her homeland and how the “seemingly antithetical” countries actually shared many similarities. She credits her travels for her “more nuanced and critical vision” of both countries. In Re-Orienting China, Chen examines books by six contemporary travel writers on post-1949 China, weighing in on their work and ways of understanding “otherness” with a critical eye, particularly when she senses an us vs. them divide. Chen states a lack of scholarship re: travel literature about China, and she addresses the issue of subjectivity in the genre, concluding that travel writing is “ideologically loaded.” In her exhaustive reading she found that “women writers who travelled in Communist China” were more inclined to “sensitivity, self-reflection, and comparative visions of home and…

Towards A Prairie Atonement
University of Regina Press / 21 December 2016

Towards a Prairie Atonement by Trevor Herriot Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $22.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-454-4 For the Métis, who lived on the Canadian prairies for centuries, land was everything. They hunted on it, sustained themselves on it, fought for it, and died for it. In Towards a Prairie Atonement, naturalist Trevor Herriot’s same reverence for the land is reflected in the deep spiritual undertones embedded in his narrative. Enamoured with both the prairie and its inhabitants, Herriot pays particular attention to the birds and trees, as is his naturalist inclination. He argues that if man does not take care of the land, nature will exact its revenge, as it did in the raging dustbowl of the Dirty Thirties. If you sit very quietly in the outdoors, he says, you can hear the land moaning its loss. Herriot has a flair for playing with descriptive language, such as “fingers of grassland around bowls of forest” and “men and women as hardy as poplar trees.” He points out that some of our English words, such as coulee, originated from Michif, the Métis language rooted in a mixture of Cree and French. Herriot draws heavily on Métis Elder…

Otto & Daria
University of Regina Press / 14 December 2016

Otto & Daria: A Wartime Journey Through No Man’s Land by Eric Koch Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $25.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-443-8 When Otto Koch, a German Jew, suffers an appendicitis attack, he’s rushed to a hospital in the Third Reich reserved for non-Jews. As the anaesthesia starts to take effect, the last words he hears are his surgeon greeting his staff with “Heil Hitler.” In his memoir, entitled Otto & Daria: A Wartime Journey Through No Man’s Land, Koch vividly re-creates his life in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s. He brilliantly captures the tension in the air as the Nazis insidiously gain control. His parents protect him from the encroaching danger and at first he leads an idyllic life, isolated from the terror that is to come. Otto continues his life chronicle, studying at the University of Cambridge in England, when he meets the mysterious Daria Hambourg, a woman at first shy but more than adept at expressing herself through her writing. She’s from a distinguished English family, but with a distinctively bohemian bent. She’s also a Socialist with no qualms about expressing her views. Otto and Daria begin corresponding by…

Deadmonton
University of Regina Press / 23 November 2016

Deadmonton: Crime Stories from Canada’s Murder City by Pamela Roth Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $21.95 ISBN 9-780889-774261 In 2011 I lived in a notorious Edmonton neighbourhood where I wouldn’t walk the length of a block alone at night. That same year Edmonton was deemed the “Murder Capital of Canada”. Journalist Pamela Roth was also living in the city at that time, and the court and crime reporter has now published a collection of true stories about several of the cops, the criminals, the victims and their families who made headlines in “Deadmonton,” both in 2011 and across the decades. The book’s title, shadowy cover image, and back cover copy all prepare readers for the disturbing content inside. “These stories are not for the faint of heart,” Roth writes in her introduction, and adds that what the murdered and/or missing victims’ families have in common is “the need for closure, no matter how much time has passed.” There’s been no closure for eleven-year-old victim Karen Ewanciw’s friend, Shelley Campbell, who was ten when she and her best friend were exploring the river valley by Edmonton’s McNally High School, and, after finding an upside down…

Long Walk, The
University of Regina Press / 9 November 2016

The Long Walk by Jan Zwicky Published by University of Regina Press Review by Cassidy McFadzean $19.95 ISBN 9780889774490 Jan Zwicky, the Governor General’s award-winning author of more than a dozen books of poetry and non-fiction, returns with a new poetry collection, The Long Walk. Zwicky has released titles with such celebrated publishers as Brick Books and Gaspereau Press, and The Long Walk marks her debut with the University of Regina Press – the first poetry release of its Oskana Poetry & Poetics imprint. The Long Walk is a wide-ranging collection that addresses environmental devastation and the ongoing refugee crisis alongside responses to Brahms and Simplikios. The diverse poems of the book’s four sections are unified by the motif of walking as a means of bearing witness to the world. “What will you do, / now that you sense the path is unraveling / beneath you?” the speaker asks of her own heart in the opening poem, “Courage.” The poem is as much a plea for the poet to have courage in delving into the difficult subject matter to follow as it is for the reader, and she instructs us to “step closer to the edge.” For Zwicky, bearing witness…

Art of Immersive Soundscapes
University of Regina Press / 27 October 2016

Art of Immersive Soundscapes Edited by Pauline Minevich and Ellen Waterman Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $39.95 ISBN 9-780889-772588 Music, laughter, the rustling wind: sound enriches our lives. Of course it can also work the other way, as anyone with belligerent neighbours can attest. Sound is an interesting field of study for scientists and artists. I’d never heard of “immersive soundscapes,” and was curious to learn what they are, why they matter, and who’s creating them. Enter editors Pauline Minevich (associate professor in the Department of Music, University of Regina) and Ellen Waterman (dean of the School of Music and professor of musicologies at Memorial University of Newfoundland), who collected the disparate papers presented at the 2007 international conference “Intersections: Music and Sound, Music and Identity,” held in Regina, and published them and a DVD of the presenters’ audio and video explorations with sound in the book Art of Immersive Soundscapes. Combining science and art, rural and urban, nature and technology, macro and micro, the featured composers in this book show us a fresh and interesting way to experience and understand our social and physical worlds. The interdisciplinary “soundscape movement” began in the 1960s…

Knowledge Seeker, The
University of Regina Press / 28 September 2016

The Knowledge Seeker: Embracing Indigenous Spirituality by Blair Stonechild Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $32.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-417-9 What is your purpose in life? This is one of the questions Blair Stonechild explores in The Knowledge Seeker: Embracing Indigenous Spirituality. In researching this book, Stonechild, a member of the Muscowpetung Saulteaux First Nation in Saskatchewan, interviewed numerous Aboriginal Elders. Among them is his mentor, Danny Musqua, who achieved the title of Knowledge Keeper, earning the right to pass sacred stories on to the next generation. Stonechild’s exploration of Aboriginal spirituality is both philosophical and practical. According to him, Indigenous spirituality has a place far beyond the classroom, and the importance of this book is self-evident: “Indigenous spirituality holds the key for transforming our future.” He explores the belief that when we die, we actually go home to the spirit world from which we came and reunite with the Creator. He also makes a strong case for reincarnation, citing several examples of children who spoke convincingly of having lived previous lives. In looking at the larger picture of life, Stonechild views all people as one. “Humans are like leaves on a tree,” he says, “all thinking they…