Saturday, April 9, 2011
Surprise Book Review
by Patricia Westerhof
It is a bit unusual for me to just write a review out of the blue, but this is such a lovely book! I found out that a book had been written by a teacher at my kids' school, and I was able to borrow it from the library, and read it immediately. Then I just had to get my thoughts down straightaway.
But oh my! This book of short stories is like seeing, out of the corners of your eyes, the sad margins around people's lives that you don't see when you look straight at them.
I love Westerhof's format of interlinked short stories, so characters track across each others' stories. It gives such depth to the sense of community. It reads more like one's real experience of other people than you get reading a first person novel - inside one person's head, or that you get from the way a novel usually concentrates on a main story and a few characters, with a central problem or tragedy.
I must also say that I love books like this that just are Canadian, without being CANADIAN, and I feel I must champion them, and recommend them as widely as possible. All the marketed, promote-able books fall into the second category, from a handful of authors, which is a shame. "Received" is so boring.
Finally, this book is set in southern Alberta, in the Dutch immigrant community, and I personally enjoy books that mention Red Deer. My mom is from there, and for me, as well as in Canadian culture, it is a town with a multi-layered symbolic value. It is a place we know of, but not the place in which we live.
My final words: get this small book, and read it, if you can.