Anne Degrace

COLUMN: Reading in our neck of the woods

Anne Degrace writes about some of her favourite BC books.

I experience pride of place as something that happens in concentric circles.

Pride in my community, in the Kootenays, in British Columbia, in my country. Within a global context, local is what you make it.

Simply looking within the circle of BC books to books by Kootenay authors, there’s plenty to celebrate. I’ve put together a non-comprehensive mini-list of novels written by local authors that are also set locally, because there’s nothing quite so pride-inducing as reading about ourselves.

Alphabetically by author (because we’re a library, after all), there’s A Canterbury Trail by Angie Abdou, about a strange pilgrimage of an odd assemblage of rednecks and hippies to a ski hut—with a nod to Chaucer—near a town a whole lot like Fernie.

In children’s author Ann Alma’s Summer of Changes, a girl and her border collie hide out in the oh-so-familiar Kootenay mountains. Ann’s books bring us sharply back to the experience of childhood while challenging her characters—and our expectations.

In Never Going Back, by Antonia Banyard, a group of friends reunites in Nelson to attend a funeral and revisit their collective past. The local environment as seen through these under-30s is sharply rendered.

Open Secret by mystery writer Deryn Collier involves an underground industry, a familiar location, and a murder. Her previous novel, Confined Space, is set in a town strangely reminiscent of Creston in a brewery strangely reminiscent of—I’m sure you can guess.

Treading Water, written by your columnist, traces a community from its early days to the construction of the High Arrow dam in a novel inspired by Renata, B.C.

This close-to-real-history fiction was just a little terrifying for the author, but former Renata residents gave it the nod (which makes sense; they really helped a great deal).

Ernest Hekkanen offers close-to-home satirical fiction in Of A Fire Beyond the Hills.

Remember the Our Way Home sculpture debacle? This is just plain, intelligent, sardonic fun.

Head Cook at Weddings and Funerals is a collection of the late Vi Plotnikoff’s lively, thoughtful stories of Doukhobor life.

I loved every one of these stories published in 1994, which gave me my first window into this rich culture.

The late Holley Rubinsky wrote about the town of Ruth during one smoky summer in Beyond this Point, and readers will be hard-pressed not to recognize Kaslo. The title story of Holley’s first collection, “Rapid Transits”, won the coveted Journey Prize.

Blewett was the inspiration for the community in Cyndi Sand-Eveland’s novel for kids, Dear Toni, in which a school journal project leads to much more.

Sixth-grader Gene Tucks has a fresh, authentic voice, which is partly why the book won the Silver Birch Award and was nominated for several others.

Fred Wah’s The Diamond Grill, about his dad’s Baker Street restaurant, is pretty nearly a classic; it’s a beautiful prose poem with a compelling narrative that offers a revealing window into Nelson a few decades ago.

And Boundary Country (2007) by Slocan Valley author Tom Wayman offers a collection of stories steeped in place—this place.

Ditto some of the unforgettable stories in his 2015 collection The Shadows we Mistake for Love.

Great books require great writers, and the library is dedicated to promoting reading— and writing.

All through November the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writ-ing Month) participants have been meeting regularly to pound out words, and our next generation of writers—teens—can join a free, drop-in creative writing group with author Rayya Liebich on the fourth Thursday of each month beginning again in February.

Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more information go to nelsonlibrary.ca.

 

Just Posted

Avalanche Canada issues special public warning

Very weak layer buried under recent snow a cause for concern

KBRH on watch for bed bugs after two recent cases

Spokesperson Mandy Lowery says there has not been a bed bug sighting at KBRH since Dec. 8

Coffee card donations return at Wait’s News

The program supplied over 200 cards last year

Trafalgar students build home for sanctuary horse

Grade 8 students collaborated on a project with a local farm sanctuary

Nelson won’t restrict parking amnesty to West Kootenay

So far, more than 800 people have responded with amnesty payments

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Boeser has 2 points as Canucks ground Flyers 5-1

WATCH: Vancouver has little trouble with slumping Philly side

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

Most Read