Fam­ily trau­mas fic­tion­al­ized in The Pas

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ARTS & LIFE - By Bob Arm­strong

THE Pas is sud­denly hav­ing its mo­ment in the literary sun. Last fall, fan­tasy au­thor Chad­wick Ginther set much of his Norse­mythol­ogy thriller in the north­west­ern Manitoba town. Then On­tario writer Lauren Carter moved there just prior to launch­ing her novel Swarm.

Now Al­berta writer Kim McCul­lough, who lived in The Pas as a child, uses the area for the set­ting of her de­but novel, Clear­wa­ter, pub­lished by Saskatchewan’s Coteau Press. The novel is the story of two friends work­ing through fam­ily trau­mas dur­ing their youth in The Pas and later in their adult lives.

“I al­ways felt the area was so beau­ti­ful, but with this strange, dark un­der­cur­rent of sad­ness,” she says, re­fer­ring to some of the dark chap­ters in the town’s past.

Win­nipeg­gers have been known to grum­ble about our city’s crime rate, tran­sit sys­tem or ur­ban plan­ning. But they tend to get up­set when that kind of com­men­tary comes from out­side the prov­ince.

So it’s a good thing Bri­tish jour­nal­ists Sam Jordi­son and Dan Kieran have yet to pro­duce a Com­mon­wealth edi­tion of their semi-satir­i­cal se­ries Crap Towns, started in 2003 to shine a spot­light on ur­ban-plan­ning and ar­chi­tec­tural fail­ures in Great Bri­tain.

The duo col­lect nom­i­na­tions — many com­ing from res­i­dents of the “crap towns” un­der dis­cus­sion — for in­clu­sion in their books and on their web­site.

In the lat­est vol­ume, Crap Towns Re­turns, to be pub­lished this month, the au­thors prom­ise to fo­cus on goodnews sto­ries about towns that are now, as the Bri­tish might put it, “a lit­tle less crap.”

Who knew that un­der­neath Ziggy Star­dust and the Thin White Duke, David Bowie had yet another per­sona? Book­worm. Ge­of­frey Marsh, cu­ra­tor of an ex­hibit on Bowie cre­ated by the Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum and tour­ing to Toronto’s Art Gallery of On­tario, talks of Bowie’s vo­ra­cious read­ing habits in an in­ter­view with the Cana­dian book trade mag­a­zine Quill & Quire.

When he was young, Bowie, who left school at age 16, took to car­ry­ing copies of books by French ex­is­ten­tial­ists in or­der to look cool, Marsh says. But then he started to read them and be­came hooked.

Marsh has as­sem­bled a list of 100 of Bowie’s favourite books, cov­er­ing a wide range of ma­jor 20th-cen­tury writ­ers as well as topics as­so­ci­ated with the art-rocker’s ca­reer.

Thin Air was last month, but one week in Oc­to­ber is stacked with heavy hit­ters of Cana­dian lit­er­a­ture.

Giller, G.G. and Booker win­ner and Twit­ter celebrity Mar­garet At­wood will read from and sign copies of new dystopian novel Mad­dAd­dam Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. at McNally Robin­son.

Two days later, Giller Prize win­ner Joseph Boy­den will read from his new novel, The Orenda, which pro­vides mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives on a fa­mous and hor­rific en­counter be­tween Je­suit mis­sion­ar­ies to the Huron and their Iro­quois foes. The Boy­den event, which also in­cludes Winnipeg poet Kather­ena Ver­mette ( North End Love Songs) takes place at the Franco-Man­i­to­ban Cul­tural Cen­tre and has a $20 ad­mis­sion fee.

Big names in two other gen­res also visit McNally Robin­son this month. Graphic nov­el­ist Chester Brown will sign copies of a 10th an­nual edi­tion of his hit Louis Riel: A Comic Strip Bi­og­ra­phy on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. and best­selling pop­u­lar his­to­rian Ken McGoogan reads from his new book, 50 Cana­di­ans Who Changed the World, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.

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