Canadian novelist and playwright Bill Gaston has dubbed Nelson’s Ernest Hekkanen — author of no less than 43 books of fiction, poetry, plays, essays, and literary criticism — Canadian literature’s “most resolute maverick.”
On Tuesday, August 30 at 7:30 p.m. the Nelson Public Library offers a chance experience our own literary maverick as he launches numbers 42 and 43 of his considerable oeuvre.
Wintering Over: Poems Strewn on Snow goes deep into the wintry drifts of the author’s inner reflections, contemplations, and personal demons, the kind of musings born of a long cold night and rendered poetic with humanity, insight, a little surreality and occasional humour.
All Night Gas Bar, and Ten Story Autopsies is a collection of short stories with a twist. Originally penned in the 1970s shortly after Hekkanen arrived in Canada, these stories were unearthed from an archival box in that serendipitous way we find things while trying to clean out.
What makes this collection of short stories different are the “autopsies,” preambles that examine, in retrospect, the circumstances that gave rise to each tale. It’s an unusual window into a writer’s literary process, in this case seen with the unique perspective of a 40-year lens.
Editor-in-chief of the literary journal The New Orphic Review in addition to his own writing projects, Hekkanen is a formidable force. According to BC Bookworld editor Alan Twigg’s website at abcbookworld.com, “Seriously comic, fabulist, theatrical, iconoclastic and shrewd, Ernest Hekkanen is a literary outsider by temperament and necessity but probably not by choice. He has done too much, too well, too fast, too independently, too far away from Ontario, to be fashionable.”
Nelson is certainly far from Ontario, and Hekkanen is far from ordinary, and both could be said to be good things. This double book launch celebrates the work of Nelson’s most prolific author.