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 (as of this writing, it is 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. Here’s an authorized excerpt from Ms. Schauber’s story, “The Little Island.”
When she first saw the painting [Little Island by Alfred J. Casson], she was gobsmacked; her pale-grey eyes, wild and electric. The Little Island was a paradise.
She imagined herself strolling along its shoreline, warm sand, pebbles, and driftwood. She’d sit a while under the large Beech tree, its pointed buds unfolding. A sudden whoosh, the drumbeat of wings, a sandhill crane crosses the lake, its shadow gracing the pink granite below.
That gives you a little taste of what you can expect from the contents and how they inspire the writer; revealing any more would spoil this particular story! Other writers put the reader right inside the painting. Given the space for a story of just a few hundred words in length to work with, they manage to craft some amazing flash fiction.
Here’s a closer look at the Table of Contents. No doubt there are other writers listed which you will recognize:
A wonderful idea, perfectly implemented, and as I mentioned at the outset, this is a book that any art and/or fiction enthusiast would enjoy receiving as a gift, but with the caveat that this book is not a critical review of the Group of Seven, nor is it a history of the group. What The Group of Seven Reimagined is though is a perfect melange of art and literature, and no doubt there will be further editions of this type of compilation. In fact, The Group of Seven Reimagined is Part One of a Two-Part program. You can read more about it here: https://groupofsevenflashfiction.weebly.com/ and there’s an interview with editor Karen Schauber here: https://mandyevebarnett.com/2019/08/27/author-interview-karen-schauber/
I am adding The Group of Seven Reimagined to the 2020 long list for “The Very Best!” Book Awards for Best Short Fiction.
“As a disciple of the Group of Seven and an aficionado of Canadian wilderness, every page gives me a little leap of pleasure.” — Robert Bateman
The Group of Seven Reimagined, Edited by Karen Schauber
Heritage House Publishing
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