First Mountain
Thistledown Press / 30 July 2008

First Mountain by Paulette Dubé Published by Thistledown Press Review by Sharon Adam $15.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-33-1 This volume of poetry is thin, but the contents are definitely not. Ms Dubé layers her writer’s voice with a variety of subjects, all of which populate her life in the mountains. Time and space revolve around images that are both familiar and spiritual. Her sharp observations and specific recollections engage the reader and encourage further exploration into this small but powerful time capsule. The pattern of words that the author evokes rises from her experiences living in the foothills of Jasper, Alberta. They evoke feelings of peace and calm while triggering memories in our own lives. The poems are not titled, rather they are numbered like the pages of a diary, or journal. They meander throughout the landscape, bringing the life of the wilderness to the heart of the suburbanite. These reflections of time and place introduce a sense of calm and quiet the mind so that our inner voices can hear and respond to the rhythm and cadence of the poetry. She has pushed back the of wave of civilization with its tendency to erode our natural life experience. The journal style…

Thistledown Press / 23 July 2008

In this 469-page novel, Nolan Taylor, a Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball Olympic champion, searches for a new identity after hip-replacement surgery. The title has multiple meanings, referring to her position on the team as well as her post-operative angst: “I was an elite wheelchair basketball player. The centre for Team Canada. The Big Girl. The Post. Now, I am a… former elite wheelchair basketball player: the post-Post.”

Thistledown Press / 17 July 2008

Svoboda by Bill Stenson Published by Thistledown Press Review by Chris Istace $ 18.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-30-0 Svoboda, by Victoria, B.C. author Bill Stenson, is a story of assimilation, providing a strong overview of how one Doukhobor family came to be as Canadian as their neighbours. Vasili Saprikin grew up in the midst of the tumultuous early history of the Doukhobor’s struggle to maintain the way of life they wanted to bring to Canada from Russia. A communal people, their settlements in both Saskatchewan and British Columbia were being assaulted by governmental attempts to assimilate the Doukhobor people into the Canadian culture of the 1950s. The Doukhobor’s response to this pressure developed into a pacifistic faction and a violent one. Learning from his grandfather, Alexay, Vasili stood outside these two factions while being taught to be proud of his heritage, regardless of how the circumstances of his culture changed. This was a challenge after the boy was whisked away from his single mother, Anuta, to residential school, where he was introduced to a conventional North American education and lifestyle. Vasili came to enjoy being educated and living the life of a standard teenager, however negative his experience at the residential school…

Interwoven Wild
Thistledown Press / 8 July 2008

Interwoven Wild: An Ecologist Loose in the Garden by Don Gayton Published by Thistledown Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $15.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-35-5 When one considers gardening books, “coffee table” books containing sumptuous photographs might spring to mind, but BC writer and nationally-known ecologist Don Gayton has written a gardening book of another nature, and for this gardener’s money, it’s far more satisfying than a full-colour, glossy album of gardens I could never aspire to. Gayton’s book of intelligent, easy-to-read literary essays, Interwoven Wild: An Ecologist Loose in the Garden delivers an ideal combination of history, witty personal anecdotes, and practical information. A vague through-line exists in the antics of Gayton’s dandelion-flinging dachshund, Spud, “who looks like an Irish setter might if it were left in the dryer too long.” Gayton is a first-rate writer and an “every person’s” philosopher. He makes the biology of a compost bin sound like both poetry and stand-up comedy (“Nobody likes a monotonous diet, not even bacteria”). Of the “Split Eden” – our penchant for pairing the cultivated and the wild – he contends that this duality “courses well beyond yard and garden into our very understanding of nature.” His subjects include soil quality…

Wild Justice

Les Langager’s first book, “Wild Justice” betrays its prairie, western title with espionage and international intrigue. In a series of intertwining characters from Israel, Alberta, and Saskatchewan’s north, the patterns don’t seem clear at first. But as the tale unfolds the connections made in the past come back to haunt and bless us at the same time. For we know not what fate has in store for us until we see it for what it is.

The Romance of Saskatchewan Settlements
THORO / 2 July 2008

The Romance of Saskatchewan Settlements by Colin A. Thomson and Rodney G. Thomson Published by THORO Publishing Review by Chris Istace $22.95 ISBN 0-9734313-0-X There’s something quaint about the way communities are named in Saskatchewan. Whether the names honor heroes or villains – local or foreign – a geological feature, or a historic occurrence, each community and the stories behind their naming are a significant part of their histories. Their names say something about both the people who settled there and the generations that followed. Colin A. Thomson and Rodney G. Thomson seek to establish how much of an influence the “people of the pen” – writers, poets, journalists, scientists, historians, composers, artists, and others – had on the people of Saskatchewan with The Romance of Saskatchewan Settlements. Working in the vein of Bill Barry’s “People Places,” the Thomsons outline the lives and times of the writers and artists who had their names etched on maps and highway signs throughout Saskatchewan. The authors pay particular homage to the communities in the southeast area of the province, which they have labeled “Writer’s Corner”. This zone includes a box on the map that runs from Moose Jaw, south to the U.S. border,…