Essays in non-fiction

#676 A trip down memory lane

Memory by Philippe Tortell, Mark Turin, and Margot Young (editors) Vancouver: UBC Press (Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies), 2018 $24.95 / 9781775276609 Reviewed by Forrest Pass * Historians think we know memory. “Social memory” — how communities, governments, and private interests understand and give the past meaning — is a well-established focus in my…
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#611 A baby boomer’s songbook

Song Book: 21 Songs From 10 Years (1964-74) by Fiona McQuarrie Walthamstow, UK: New Haven Publishing, 2018 $24.00  /  9781912587155 Reviewed by Randolph Eustace-Walden * It’s been said that if you remember the 1960s you weren’t there. Well, I do, and I was. And like many others of my generation, the music of that time…
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#594 Talking feet & werewolf expertise

Collapsible by Tim Conley Vancouver: New Star Books, 2019 $18.00 / 9781554201518 Reviewed by Myshara Herbert-McMyn with Ginny Ratsoy * The author of several previous books of poetry, Tim Conley teaches twentieth-century literature at Brock University, specializing in modernists such as Joyce and Beckett, as well as “experimental novelists and avant-garde poets,” according to his…
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#587 Islands and ingenuity

Complicated Simplicity: Island Life in the Pacific Northwest by Joy Davis Victoria: Heritage House, 2019 $22.95 / 9781772032703 Reviewed by Howard Macdonald Stewart * Joy Davis’s book, she writes, “…focuses on the perspectives and experiences of people who live on Pacific Northwest islands, particularly those not served by ferries…” Life on these islands, she tells…
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#560 Arbutus, sandstone, & Salish Sea

Love of the Salish Sea Islands: New Essays, Memoirs and Poems by 40 Island Writers by Mona Fertig (editor) and Gail Sjuberg (introduction) Salt Spring Island: Mother Tongue Publishing, 2019 $23.95 / 9781896949734 Reviewed by Theresa Kishkan * I first encountered the term “islomania” in Lawrence Durrell’s sublime Reflections on a Marine Venus, a memoir…
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#530 My private Italy

MEMOIR: My Private Italy by Grahame Ware * We are delighted to present “My Private Italy,” the second instalment of Grahame Ware’s social history memoir, a larger project with the working title In the Moonshadows of My iMac. The first instalment, “My Private Chinatown,” was published in the Ormsby Review #501 (March 08th, 2019). In “My Private…
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#527 Canadian graffiti

Graffiti, Canadian Style by Ernest Hekkanen First published in The Ormsby Review, April 9, 2019 * It was twenty years ago, in 1999, that Ernest Hekkanen wrote this diatribe about why Vancouver public art is so godawful, why Canada’s granting agencies can be foolish or corrupt, and why he rejected a contract from a respected…
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#501 My Private Chinatown

MEMOIR: My Private Chinatown by Grahame Ware * The literature of remembrance turns the lost world of objects into emblems of a bygone culture. What is lost can be repossessed through memory and writing, for it is in the vagaries of consciousness in retracing lost dreams that possession can best be established. Writing about memories…
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#479 On the wings of forever

ESSAY: Universal Technologies and Traditional Innovations: A Comprehensive Perspective for Museums by Yosef Wosk An Ormsby Exclusive, in collaboration with the The Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars First published Feb. 5, 2019 * We are pleased to present an essay by Yosef Wosk about nothing less than mankind’s accumulation and appreciation of shared knowledge and wisdom. This extraordinarily…
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#459 Skylark: old friend in a new land

ESSAY: Old Friend in a New Land: English Songbirds in British Columbia by Richard Somerset Mackie * Because the road is rough and long Shall we despise the skylark’s song? — Charlotte Bronte[1] * Introduced from England in 1903 and 1913, Eurasian skylarks took hold in Vancouver Island’s older agricultural districts, to which they were…
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Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars

The Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars is an enthusiastic network of lifelong learners—avid readers and researchers, curious travellers and thoughtful practitioners—who are not affiliated with a university or college. CAIS members help each other overcome the barriers of isolation and lack of institutional support, to enable each other to make vital contributions to scholarship in…
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#368 “Walk like an Indian”

Kuei, My Friend: A Conversation on Race and Reconciliation by Deni Ellis Béchard and Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, translated by Deni Ellis Béchard and Howard Scott Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2018 $19.95 / 9781772011951 Reviewed by Dylan Burrows First published September 07th, 2018 * Following the controversial death of 11-year old Ojibwe girl Makayla Sault from leukaemia in…
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#351 Essays from the north

Where it Hurts: Essays by Sarah de Leeuw Edmonton: NeWest Press, 2017 $19.95 / 9781926455846 Reviewed by Heidi Greco First published Aug. 24, 2018 * Heidi Greco reviews Sarah de Leeuw’s Where it Hurts: Essays, a collection that has been much-praised and shortlisted for national and regional non-fiction prizes. “These aren’t the essays your high…
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#320 An East Vancouver childhood

Dear Current Occupant: A Memoir by Chelene Knight Toronto: Book*hug, 2018 $20.00  /  9781771663908 Reviewed by Jennifer Chutter First published June 13, 2018 * Amidst the swirl of media reports of rising housing prices, empty houses, and increased property taxes, Chelene Knight’s Dear Current Occupant: A Memoir offers a rare and nuanced view of what…
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#311 I fought the law, and the dog won

The Dog Lover Unit: Lessons in Courage from the World’s K9 Cops by Rachel Rose New York: St. Martin’s Press (Macmillan Publishers), 2017 $28.99  /  9781250110749 Reviewed by Bonnie Reilly Schmidt First published May 30, 2018 * Rachel Rose’s The Dog Lover Unit: Lessons in Courage from the World’s K9 Cops is a surprising departure…
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#256 Bethune: I’m not your man

ESSAY: I’m not your man: Norman Bethune & women by Larry Hannant First published Feb. 28, 2018 * Doctor, medical innovator, propagandist, artist, political activist — Norman Bethune is nothing if not multitalented. The same complexity marks his character. The accounts of friends and acquaintances portray a man whose personality was multifaceted and contradictory, at once…
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#254 Theresa Kishkan’s orchard

Euclid’s Orchard and Other Essays by Theresa Kishkan Salt Spring Island: Mother Tongue Publishing, 2017 $22.95  / 9781896949635 Reviewed by Catriona Sandilands First published Feb. 27, 2018 * My kitchen, on this wet, early January afternoon, is saturated with the smell of apples slowly reducing to become apple butter. In the almost-forgotten autumn, my daughter…
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#251 The stupid man’s smart person?

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson Toronto: Penguin Random House Canada (Random House Canada), 2018 $34.95  /  9780345816023 Reviewed by Ron Dart First published Feb. 23, 2018 * Controversial University of Toronto psychologist and cultural critic Jordan Peterson, condemned by Maclean’s as “the stupid man’s smart person,” has spoken to…
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#238 Unforgettable Major Matthews

The unforgettable Major Matthews: A memoir of 1969 by John  Pass First published Jan. 23, 2018 * We are pleased to unveil a memoir by the award-winning poet John Pass (born 1947) from the summer of 1969 when he crossed paths with Vancouver’s first archivist, the one and only Major J.S. Matthews, an Imperial bulldog…
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#235 Dancing on paper

First published Jan. 19, 2018. A Queer Love Story: The Letters of Jane Rule and Rick Bébout by Marilyn R. Schuster (editor) Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017. $39.95  / 9780774835459 Reviewed by Patricia Demers * Reading a collection of letters can be something of a guilty pleasure. Marilyn Schuster’s edition of the letters of Jane Rule…
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