Saturday 26 November 2016

Book Review: The Vancouver Stories

I bought this collection of short stories and novel excerpts in the hopes of attaching stories to my new
home.  I imagined beautiful odes to our incredible surroundings, mysterious histories and poetry.  Instead, this collections seemed dedicated to the weird and depressing.  I supposed it has something to do with Douglas Coupland being the mind behind the collection.  His introduction states that he wants to disprove the idea that Vancouver is just a "nice" city.

This book included an excellent variety of writers.  From Pauline Johnson to Alice Munro to Shani Mootoo, I was introduced to many Canadian writers I had never read before.  I found The Bravest Boat by Malcolm Lowry extremely irritating, even with it's surprise ending.

I especially loved Alice Munro's story, which included a reference to my new home.  "The last days of May are among the longest of the year, and in spite of the ferry-dock lights and the lights of the cars streaming into the belly of the boat, she could see some glow in the western sky and against it the black mound of an island -- not Bowen but one whose name she did not know -- tidy as a pudding set in the mouth of the bay."

I was intrigued by Timothy Taylor's excerpt from his novel Stanley Park titled The Canvasback which tells the story of a a chef meeting his father at night in Stanley Park.  His father, The Professor, is so obsessed with studying the homeless people who live there that he has moved in with them.  He pridefully displays his ability to survive in the woods by killing and cooking a duck.  I am similarly curious about what happens at night in this amazing park.

The collection also includes a poignant family story by Madelein Thien titled A Map of the City.  Thien is the most recent winner of The Giller Prize.  She certainly gave me a new way of seeing Vancouver.

It took me a while to get through and I don't think I understood some of them.  While this book was not what I was hoping it would be, I'm still glad to have read these stories.    

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