I have accumulated a few gift books recently, and I am often at a loss as to review them. Typically, they are books that fall under the “Art” category, and as such, are mainly pictures with some brief accompanying text. Not a lot to review, and anyway, they are always beautiful to look at and display. So I thought I would combine them all into one post and you can explore them for yourself. I have provided links to Amazon.ca where possible.*
Streetcars of St. Johns by Kenneth G. Pieroway
Published by Newfoundland’s Flanker Press, this would be an ideal book for train & rail enthusiasts as well as any St. John resident. While streetcars were a regular feature of many major North American cities, only Toronto maintains one these days. The St. John’s system was shut down in 1948. The major feature of this book is the Past/Present photographs beautifully reproduced on each page. Old and young will appreciate these pictures. Available from Flanker Press: https://www.flankerpress.com/product/streetcars-of-st-johns-hc
Ted Drover: Ships Artist by Sheilah Mackinnon Drover
Another fine Flanker Press publication, Ted Drover: Ships Artist is the first-ever publication of works by artist Ted Drover, accompanied by text providing contextual background for the aspect of the history of Newfoundland and Labrador that each drawing represents. Ted Drover’s personal papers indicate that it had been his intention to publish a book “of seagoing crafts engaged in the fishery and general commerce of the island of Newfoundland and Labrador from about 1850 to 1950 . . . starting with wind-powered ships and developing through sailing ships with auxiliary power to ships powered with steam and internal combustion.” The drawings which have been included in this collection are authentic depictions of vessels that plied the waters around Newfoundland and beyond, connecting place to place, and people to each other and to the larger world. They represent a lifestyle that has all but disappeared. Link to Amazon.ca Kindle Edition: https://amzn.to/2IOU5uZ
The Adirondack Guideboat: Its Origins, Its Builders, and Their Boats by Stephen B. Sulavik
From New Hampshire’s Bauhan Publishing comes this handsome (and detailed!) book on this historic vessel. What started as a mid-19th century working boat for sportsmen and their guides has turned into an icon of the Adirondacks. Now, its full story is being told in a lavishly illustrated new book.“It is hard to imagine that it could have come into existence anywhere else,” says the introduction. “Built from readily available eastern red spruce, northern white pine, and northern white cedar, the Adirondack Guideboat represents the enduring legacy of a culture that was inherently appreciative of, dependent upon, and bound up with the challenging environment of the Adirondacks.” Amazon.ca link: https://amzn.to/2MyRciM
Slow Seconds: The Photography of George Thomas Taylor by Ronald Rees and Joshua Green
From New Brunswick’s Goose Lane Publishing. Captured in the “slow seconds” of his camera, George Taylor’s photographs illumined landscapes, people, and the seismic changes taking place at the cusp of the new century. His photographs offer viewers a fascinating glimpse into nineteenth-century New Brunswick. Taylor’s career coincided with a period when photographers began to provide Canadians with images of the “wilderness.” Drawing on the knowledge and expertise of Indigenous guides, Taylor travelled not only through settled parts of New Brunswick but also into the wilderness of the north, providing views of hitherto unfamiliar and unknown terrain and helping to popularize the outdoors as a venue for canoeing, hunting and fishing. The first book of Taylor’s photographs presents a curated selection of one hundred photographs together with an account of the beginnings of photography and Taylor’s life and work. Amazon.ca link: https://amzn.to/2MgGNt6
The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings, Edited by Karen Schauber
There’s a very good reason that as I write this, The Group of Seven Reimagined, Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings is sitting at, or near the top of bestseller lists in Canada (currently #3 on the Canadian Art bestseller list at Amazon.ca). The result is a most attractive book that any lover of art and literature would enjoy, even if they already have more than a passing familiarity with the iconic Group of Seven. All the stories that accompany each image are in the “flash fiction” style, just a page or two in length, a little story that the authors were inspired to write after choosing a particular G7 painting. As editor Karen Schauber states in the book’s foreword:
“Flash fiction writers from across Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia, each with a distinct Canadian connection, have crafted an original flash fiction piece inspired by a Group of Seven painting, a selection of their own choosing, one that speaks to and moves them on a personal level. Each painting singular; each voice, unique.”
The twenty-one pieces of art are beautifully reproduced on high-quality paper stock and preface each story, each image getting a complete page, which art enthusiasts will appreciate. The collection starts off with New Brunswick writer Mark Anthony Jarman (author of Knife Party at the Hotel Europa) and includes other writes such as Carol Bruneau (A Circle on the Surface), Waubgeshig Rice (Moon of the Crusted Snow), Bretton Loney (Rebel With a Cause: The Doc Nikaido Story), Michael Mirolla (author and publisher, Guernica Editions), and editor Karen Schauber (she takes the cover image for her inspiration), just to name a few. Full review here. Amazon.ca link here: https://amzn.to/33YRZkr
Lots to choose from!
Here are some more suggestions I have from last year’s post: https://miramichireader.ca/2018/11/books-make-great-gifts-2018/
*Please note if you choose to purchase a book through Amazon using the links above I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. The Miramichi Reader (TMR) —Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases— highlights noteworthy books and authors across Canada from coast to coast to coast (est. 2015). James works and resides in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.