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…

Convictions
Coteau Books / 19 October 2016

Convictions by Judith Silverthorne Published by Coteau Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $16.95 ISBN 9-781550-506525 I’ve now read enough of Judith Silverthorne’s numerous books to know that anything she writes will be a worthy read, and my belief was confirmed again with her latest, the historical novel Convictions. This time the multi-award-winning Regina writer (and Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild) has penned an action-packed, fact-based tale about 14-year-old Jennie, a British lass sentenced to serve seven years in a penal colony in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania, Australia) after she was ungenerously convicted of theft. First however, Jennie must survive the four or five months of sailing on a convict ship with 234 other women and children, and a crew that includes more than a few letches. It’s cramped, filthy, and there’s precious little food or medical aid. Before long Jennie finds herself stitching up a fellow convict, Lizzie, a “doxie” who’s been flogged almost to death by the evil guard Red Bull. I’m in awe of how Silverthorne pulls it all together: the historical and sailing details, the adventures (including fistfights, a hurricane, and a shipwreck of Titanic proportions), and even the first sparks of a romance…

Hamburger
Thistledown Press / 12 October 2016

Hamburger by Daniel Perry Published by Thistledown Press Review by Leslie Vermeer $18.95 978-1-77187-097-9 Hamburger, Daniel Perry’s new collection of short fiction published by Saskatoon’s Thistledown Press, is loaded with clever, provocative, thoughtful tales. Perry’s stories span moments from comedy to horror to pathos, and the collection explores familiar themes such as travel, discovery, loss, and false belief. But Perry’s fresh voice, narrative twists, and playful telling will keep readers turning pages. Even the briefest of Perry’s stories are peopled by ordinary folks at unusual, sometimes awkward moments. Some involve little epiphanies, such as “Rocky Steps,” which features a single mother with thwarted dreams. Some reveal universal human failings, such as “Gleaner,” which looks at small-town life and how rumours work. Several stories involve dying parents and how their families are affected by grief and change. What stands out about these stories is their emotional core: the basic humanness of characters in stark circumstances. Also impressive is Perry’s reach. Some of the stories take experimental forms, from the second-person address of the title story to the alternating narration of “Pleasure Craft,” in which waterskiing becomes an opportunity for remaking a relationship. There’s also the short speculative fiction “Aria di Gelato,”…

Aboriginal Rock Paintings of the Churchill River, The

The Aboriginal Rock Paintings of the Churchill River by Tim E.H. Jones Published by Saskatchewan Archaeological Society Review by Keith Foster $21.00 ISBN 9780969142065 When Tim Jones saw his first rock paintings on Kipahigan Lake in northern Saskatchewan in 1964, he was both puzzled and fascinated by them. The subject of his Master’s thesis, studying these paintings became his lifelong passion. The Aboriginal Rock Paintings of the Churchill River is the second printing of a book originally published in 1981 based on Jones’s thesis. By the time it went out of print in 2005, it had become a “best seller,” having sold more copies than any other book dealing with Saskatchewan’s archeological past. According to Jeff Baldwin, President of the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society, the book remains “the main published resource on the ancient rock art of Saskatchewan’s north.” In his preface, Jones points out the importance of this study. “Rock art is the most widely spread, diverse and ancient of all human creative endeavours.” In learning about past artists and their worlds, we learn more about our own world and our current culture. These rock paintings depict a variety of subjects, primarily human-like figures, thunderbirds, and snakes. Tobacco pipes, rings,…

Ceremony of Touching
Coteau Books / 5 October 2016

Ceremony of Touching by Karen Shklanka Published by Coteau Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $16.95 ISBN 9-781550-506679 It’s gratifying to possess some knowledge of where, both literally and metaphorically, a poet is writing from. The first piece in BC poet/doctor/dancer Karen Shklanka’s second book of poetry – which originated as her master’s thesis – is a touchstone. It introduces us to “the wounded soul of a doctor” who finds repose on Salt Spring Island among the “scent of salted forest, wrap of humidity/from logs returning to earth, and reassurance/from thickets of salal flowers cupped in prayer.” It’s a strong, unique, and elemental premise. In many ways I feel this seven-sectioned book is not unlike one long prayer, or at least a meditation: upon one’s profession, personal relationships, nature and human nature, how “everything is connected,” and upon the atrocity of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The section that recounts the historical event (from a fictional tailgunner’s perspective; I’m thankful for the poet’s extensive notes on the poems) is titled “Flight Log,” and it’s no small deal that it was long-listed for the CBC Poetry Prize. More interesting to me, however, are the numerous poems in which one can almost…

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