Vancouver

The East Side Of It All, by Joseph Dandurand

Joseph Dandurand, in his fourth book of poetry, lays bare the Indigenous experience in the rugged Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Lives filled with drugs and alcohol, injustice and abuse, poverty, death and despair that he treats with tenderness, understanding and compassion. Some are scenes or stories that we, as non-Indigenous people, think we know from reading newspapers or as bystanders or observers giving thanks for our secure harbours.…

Skin House by Michael Blouin

Skin House got me with this line on its back cover: “Skin House is a story about two guys who end up in the same bar they started out in.” I thought, sweet, a kind of modern Waiting for Godot story. Wrong. But oh, so good in what it does do.

Take a down-and-out guy who stocks store shelves, add an ex-girlfriend who hates him while he still loves everything about her, his father Otis who lives unhappily in a nursing home and wonders who his son is, and his best friend, bald Gerry, who works in a meat department in a grocery store and competes with the guy for top rung on the loser ladder.…

Cheap Thrills: A Novel by David Kloepfer

Thrills takes place over the course of a single weekend, beginning with the incessantly stoned Ethan and his roommate Phil discovering the body of their weed dealer in a Vancouver alley alongside a box of porno magazines and crime noir paperbacks. Tasked by his eccentric boss with locating the money the dealer had been carrying, gang member Wynne Duncan is led to the two roommates.

The Girl Who Stole Everything by Norman Ravvin

Ravvin skillfully weaves his story with images of the past and present in Vancouver and a small village in Poland. The key figures are drawn together throughout the story using the unlikeliest of props; a vacant building which was once a pawn shop in Vancouver, an abandoned house in the Polish village square of Radzanow, a pop bottle, a box containing relics – one of which is a photo of children, a black and white image of the past.…

Bill Arnott’s Beat: Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Writers’ Collective

clink and scrape of flatware on plates. Lips smack. A bronchial cough. Huge potted fichus stoop at the ceiling, the look of good-natured green giants. I have a fifty-cent cup of coffee, which is not a Curtis Jackson reference. That’s the price of coffee at the Carnegie Centre in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), for those of us who belong.

I belong.…

Elemental by Kate Braid

was in a collaborative songwriting workshop, a handful of hardworking, talented individuals collectively pushing themselves as artists. My partner for this particular month (we paired with different people each month) chose to go back to her day job. Being an active musician while having a highrise office career was simply too taxing. And as a professional accountant, taxing stuff was something she knew all too well.…

Butterfly by John Delacourt

the heart of John Delacourt’s Butterfly is a simple enough story: blackmail and robbery gone very wrong with the principle characters fleeing the law as well as each other. However, I have come to expect an elevated raison d’etre from any book published by Montreal’s Linda Leith Publications, and Butterfly certainly upholds (if not exceeds) those expectations. There is a lot more here than the crimes of blackmail and robbery.…