Two From Char­lot­te­town

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - El­iz­a­beth Cran At­lantic Pages

“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.

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