Two From Charlottetown
“And Another Thing” by Campbell Webster (privately published, www.campbellwebster.ca), and “Our Lady of Steerage” by Steven Mayoff (B & B, Ltd., PO Box 636 Charlottetown, $26.95) are the two books in question.
Webster is a columnist for The Guardian newspaper. On the other hand, B & B Ltd. has its roots in Jericho, N.Y. How it got to the Island, where it seems to be putting down roots, is a mystery to us.
“Our Lady of Steerage” is an attractive hardcover, with illustrations based on the theme of the stormy Atlantic, which most of the principal characters have to cross as they flee from Poland to Canada in 1923. This wild voyage and its aftermath is one of the themes of the book. Another is the characters’ struggle to establish themselves in this strange land. A third theme is Orthodox Judaism; Mariasse, a young Catholic woman, converts to Judaism, and then, much later in life, returns to the Catholic Church. Yet another theme is the ongoing relationship between Mariasse and Dora (Dvorah); they meet on the ship when Dora is a baby and Mariasse is her caregiver. The last scene in the novel depicts Dora’s burial at which Mariasse, now an old woman, is present. This is a sad, complex novel, which may have quite a wide appeal.
“And Another Thing” is a great book. Many of its collected columns will make you laugh. Some may make you mad. None will bore you. (They’re too short for that anyway.) Learn about Central America — Webster was born there and returns regularly to do development work, South Melville, his two small children, his grandfather who lived to be 103, Island (and federal) politics and the concrete elf and dog on his former shed roof. No wonder some readers hate him. (See the back cover for examples.)
“Beloved and despised columns...” let’s look at a few of the beloved ones anyway: Lawn ornaments and MLAs, Avoiding splinters, atom bombs, Death and other good news, and Terrible deals on stupid Tuesday, etc., etc., etc.
Here are a few columns which some people would despise: Blogs and clowning, Kansas Jack meets flying carp, Zap! You’re invisible! and My fridge crashed.
Finally there are some columns which we believe everyone could like - not funny, but true: He is still walking with us, Some shiny shoes for Christmas and Catholicism and the Maple Leafs.