The Education of Augie Merasty
University of Regina Press / 22 January 2016

The Education of Augie Merasty by Joseph Auguste Merasty with David Carpenter Published by University of Regina Press Review by Kris Brandhagen $21.95 978-0-88977-368-4 The creation of The Education of Augie Merasty, by Joseph Auguste Merasty with David Carpenter, which describes Merasty’s experience at St. Therese Residential School in Sturgeon Landing Saskatchewan between 1935 and 1944, from the age of five to fourteen, was a labour of tenderness and patience. From the point of Carpenter receiving a forwarded letter in spring of 2001 asking for professional assistance to the completion of the book, the endeavour took over thirteen years. Carpenter took no less than five trips from Saskatoon to Prince Albert to “run down” the elusive memoirist to finally sign the publication contract. Carpenter writes: “by telling the stories of others and connecting them to his own experience, Merasty broadened his range of inquiry, and […] the implications of his sometimes horrific story, a story in which our entire nation is darkly and obscurely complicit.” Whether readers like it or not, untold numbers of people were treated in a dehumanising way at the residential schools. Merasty does not get mired in recounting every small injustice (as if such things can…

Literary History of Saskatchewan – Volume Two
Coteau Books / 28 January 2015

The Literary History of Saskatchewan. Volume 2 – Progressions edited by David Carpenter Published by Coteau Books Review by Keith Foster $24.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-567-2 (v. 2) The Literary History of Saskatchewan continues its analysis of the province’s literary pioneers in this second volume – Progressions. This collection of essays brings insights into Saskatchewan writers and their writing styles from the 1980s to the end of the twentieth century. This period brought the Saskatchewan Book Awards and the Saskatchewan Festival of Words into being, and strengthened the literary presses like Coteau Books. With the demise of the Saskatchewan School of the Arts came the closing of Fort San, which Ken Mitchell describes as “a prairie legend, a Woodstock on the Qu’Appelle River.” But rising like a phoenix on the prairie, the Sage Hill Writing Experience took its place. In an ironic twist, Mitchell had been turned down by W.O. Mitchell for a workshop because he “wasn’t good enough.” The younger Mitchell was determined to prove him wrong, and did, becoming an instructor at Fort San and a professor at the University of Regina. This 290-page book contains four tributes and eleven essays, each referenced, including one devoted entirely to Saskatchewan’s new…

The Literary History of Saskatchewan – Volume One
Coteau Books / 23 July 2013

The Literary History of Saskatchewan. Volume 1 – Beginnings edited by David Carpenter Published by Coteau Books Review by Keith Foster $19.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-515-3 (v. 1) The Literary History of Saskatchewan sets out to be a comprehensive history of literary writing in Saskatchewan. It encompasses a scope as broad as the prairie landscape, with as much variety as the flora and fauna of that landscape. Volume 1 of a three-volume scholarly study, this book focuses on the period covering the oral traditions of First Nations storytellers and early European explorers to the burgeoning Saskatchewan literary world of the 1970s. Over the decades, Saskatchewan has produced a bumper crop of successful authors, many with now-familiar names, such as W.O. Mitchell, Sinclair Ross, Anne Szumigalski and Guy Vanderhaeghe. The book is a collection of eleven essays and four tributes covering all genres of writing, including non-fiction, novels, poetry, and playwriting. It is a collaborative effort by sixteen essayists, virtually all with university backgrounds, under the editorship of David Carpenter, himself an author with clearly established credentials. Carpenter points out in his foreword that the literary centre of Saskatchewan is wherever writers write, whether at a sturdy oak desk, in a cabin alcove,…