A Rain of Dragonflies
Serimuse Books / 17 December 2015

A Rain of Dragonflies by Regine Haensel Published by Serimuse Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $14.25 ISBN 978-0-99390-320-5 Before reading a book, I wonder what new landscapes (internal and external) I’ll explore, what characters and situations I’ll be introduced to. With short stories, I’ve often found that those furthest from what I believe to be the writer’s personal experience are the most successful. So it was with A Rain of Dragonflies, by Saskatoon’s Regine Haensel, a collection of fourteen short stories. The two that most captivated were “The Cage,” about a dumpster-diving recluse who cages a canary that’s flown into her two-room rooftop suite, and “Winter,” about a flowerchild-turned-teacher who picks up an elderly female hitchhiker during a “near blizzard,” and has her perceptions challenged. Many (if not most) writers do use “seeds” from their lives as inspiration, even when writing fiction. I don’t know how much of these particular stories was fabricated – Haensel did work as a teacher and lived in remote communities like the ones described in the book – but I do know that they really work. Several characters are unsettled re: the way their lives have turned out, but unlike the rest, Aggie (from…

Free Knowledge
University of Regina Press / 11 December 2015

Free Knowledge: Confronting the Commodification of Human Discovery Edited By Patricia W. Elliott & Daryl H. Hepting Published by University of Regina Press Review by Allison Kydd $27.95 ISBN 9780889773653 Free Knowledge is a collection of articles that offers some surprises to readers who might assume corporations are always the bad guys. After all, most readers have heard of corporations hoarding and overpricing pharmaceuticals, making them unavailable to the countries that need them most. Many readers might also be aware of dangerously close relationships between private corporations and universities and other public research facilities. Some articles address these issues, but the overall discussion of a “knowledge commons” is much broader. Articles also consider seeds, especially those that are genetically engineered and patents that attempt to “own” that knowledge, the implications of copyright, the appropriation of culture and questions around free access as opposed to subscriptions, among other things. In fact, the book covers so many aspects of knowledge and its possession that it’s difficult to evaluate the collection as a whole. Though the editors are professors, not all the authors represented here are academics. Some are graduate students, farmers, activists, ethicists or publishers. Perhaps that explains the breadth of the…

Northern Trader
University of Regina Press / 10 December 2015

Northern Trader: The Last Days of the Fur Trade by H. S. M. Kemp Published by University of Regina Press Review by Kris Brandhagen $27.95 9780889773165 Originally published in the 1950s, Northern Trader: The Last Days of the Fur Trade by H.S.M. Kemp is a memoir that begins in 1908 with Harold Kemp in his teens making the trip to Lac La Ronge to ask for a job with the Hudson Bay Company. With romantic thoughts in his mind about what it might be like to be a “company man,” he encountered frozen lakes that made canoe travel out of the question, necessitating a hard suffering walking trip. Unaccustomed to moccasins and snowshoes, under advisement of his native guide, he rubbed bacon grease on his feet every night, and finally reverted back to his patent leather shoes in favor of their hard soles. To travel the northern elements, with cracked feet, in search of a job seems surprising, but that’s how Kemp did it. Northern Trader is written in a very accessible style by a white Prince Albert man originally from England. Through his stories the reader learns that he is no ordinary “company man” in that he prefers to…

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