Taking John Jacob Astor-risks

Beaver fever: The Fur Trade Gamble examines the North West Company’s pre-1821 “Columbia Adventure” chiefly on the American side of the Pacific Northwest.         FULL STORY

Who’s Who

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John Armstrong and friend

A is for Armstrong
A cat might have nine lives; but John Armstrong has had nine dogs–and counting. John Armstrong’s third memoir, A Series of Dogs (New Star $21), recalls the first nine canines to adopt him as a friend, regarding each animal as a fully realized character. It’s described as “the sort of book that will make your dog whimper and lick your face to make sure you’re okay because you’re doubled over on the floor laughing so hard.” The former bandleader of The Modernettes recalls his first dog, Ruff, followed by a cocker spaniel named Kiltie, Spooky, Chopper, Rip, a $5,000 Rottweiler named Mugsy, Sluggo, Bobo and Seamus. Several cats make cameo appearances. 9781554201181

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Inge Bolin

B is for Bolin
Inge Bolin’s first novel, When Condors Call (Nanaimo: Chaska Publications, 2010) follows a young physician from the Peruvian Andes in search of a cure for leishmaniasis, a disfiguring disease. Bolin recently returned to some of the highest inhabitable regions of the Andes to do research for a forthcoming new book to be called Thirst in the Andes – Climate Change and Solutions for Survival.  Her 2016 stay in Peru enabled her to discover that, due to climate change, the disfiguring and deadly disease Leishmaniasis, which is at the center of her novel, is on the increase and has reached epidemic proportions in some regions. While calling attention to the Zika virus, Doctors without Borders has also cited Leishmaniasis as one of the most dangerous and neglected tropical diseases. The royalties for Bolin’s self-published novel go to an NGO of volunteers called “Yachaq Runa” which she founded in Cuzco, Peru, in 1992, for connecting Andean Medicine, Nutrition and Ecology. Based on her first-hand experiences in the Andes, as an anthropology professor at Malaspina University College, Inge Bolin has also published, Rituals of Respect: The Secrets of Survival in the High Peruvian Andes (University of Texas Press, 1998) and Growing up in a Culture of Respect – Child Rearing in Highland Peru (University of Texas Press, 2006)  for which she received the “Circle of Courage Award” for her contribution to the science and practice of positive youth development in 2009. This book is presently being translated into Spanish to be published by Editorial Horizonte in Lima, Peru. Born in Germany, Bolin has studied and worked in Germany, Scotland, Switzerland, France, Spain, Belize, Guatemala, Singapore, Indonesia, Peru, and the US. She holds certificates and degrees through to the PHD and speaks German, English, Spanish, French, some Mandarin Chinese and some Quechua and writes in the first four languages.

Vic Cavalli

C is for Cavalli
Born in Vancouver in 1953, Vic Cavalli has been teaching English at the university level since 1987, and Creative Writing at the university level since 2001. His fiction, poetry, photography, and visual art have been published in literary journals in Canada, the United States, England, and Australia. While teaching at Trinity Western University in the Fraser Valley he will publish a novel, The Road to Vermilion Lake (NY: Harvard Square Editions, 2017), concerned with exploring the themes of generation and regeneration. After fronting some high school bands, Cavalli worked for seven years at manual labor jobs (such as operating machines and driving forklifts in factories, building steel fishing boats, and logging—setting chokers and falling trees). Eventually, an educated friend advised him to enroll in first-year College, adding, “Read some Russian novels.” $22.95 U.S. 978-1-941861-40-0

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Anthony Dalton

D is for Dalton
The author of 14 books and past president of the Canadian Authors Association, Anthony Dalton has published an historical novel that ranges from 17th century England across the Atlantic Ocean to the sub-Arctic, over the wilderness forests of eastern Canada and part of old France, and back to England. Narrator Thomas Woodhouse is a young mathematician and sailor. Leaving behind his family and a lady friend, he joins Captain Henry Hudson’s arctic expedition to find the Northwest Passage. The crew mutinies and the captain, along with a few others including Woodhouse are cast off. Thomas is the only one to survive and he lives for the next two decades with a native tribe on the shores of James Bay. He later returns to England to find out what happened to the mutineers. A writer and photographer for more than 20 years, Dalton was previously a professional expedition leader and adventure guide. Between 1969 and 1980 he organized and led long-range expeditions in the Sahara (including a television documentary for CBC-TV), West Africa and the deserts of the Middle East. He was the organizer and leader of a CBC-TV filming expedition to the Saharan salt mines of Taoudenit in northern Mali, and participated in a television documentary on great Canadian rivers for the Discovery Channel. He has made river expeditions with Bangladeshi naturalists in search of the Royal Bengal tiger and paddled wilderness rivers in northern Canada. He lives on a small island off the coast of B.C. 978-1-94201-812-4

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Karen Enns

E is for Enns
In her third collection of poetry, Cloud Physics (University of Regina $19.95), Karen Enns focuses on endings – cultural, ecological, and personal. Endings may be viewed as tragic but throughout Enns peppers her lines with affirmations of love, music and language. The importance of being rooted in place and history is another favorite topic that she mines for inspiration. Enns is a former pianist and this collection is informed as much by music as her love of language. Her first book, That Other Beauty was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award, and her second, Ordinary Hours was shortlisted for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. 978-0-88977-461-2

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Shelley Fralic

F is for Fralic
With a foreword by Douglas Coupland, Shelley Fralic and research librarian Kate Bird have combined their skills and knowledge for a second time to present 149 photos from the Vancouver Sun archives for Seventies: Photos from a Decade That Changed the City (Greystone $29.95), featuring representative images from the era as well as pivotal moments in the city’s history such as the Gastown Riot and the founding of Greenpeace. Personalities range from a five-year-old Justin Trudeau to the iconic Chief Dan George. 9781771642408

Dan Green

Dan Green

G is for Green
After a career practicing dentistry in West Vancouver, Hamilton-born Dan Green studied creative writing at UBC. He has two published books to his credit, the latest title being Teeth, Lies & Consequences (Red Tuque $19.95). The story begins in the mayhem and horrors during World War II and its aftermath. Friedrich Mueller, a well-off dentist living in Germany, is caught concealing his Jewish ancestry and must swear a secret oath to escape the gas chambers of Auschwitz. He flees to Palestine with his wife where they open a dental practice in the Jerusalem’s Old City. They practice equality and tolerance and in the process adopt Frankie, an Arab boy, only to be caught up in the sectarian violence that swept through the Middle East in 1948. The family escapes to California where Frankie grows up and follows in Friedrich’s footsteps by becoming a dentist. Initially successful serving famous Hollywood people, his life spins out of control and he travels back to Gaza to re-connect with his Arabic heritage. Things don’t go well for Frankie and he is arrested as a terrorist and murderer. Friedrich rushes to his son’s rescue only to find that, in order to save his son’t life, he must divulge the secret oath he took back in the 1940s. Dan Green continues to live in West Vancouver. He is a member of the Canadian Authors Association, The Federation of BC Writers, and the Palm Springs Writers Guild. 9781537529677

H is for Hancox
Ralph Hancox’s third novel in two years, The Ape and the Peacock (Fictive Press $17.99), emanates from his social conscience. Set in the fictional Canadian province of Superior, his story spans a few days in November of 1957, following the paths of two miscreants and their differing fates. As the lives of several high-level government officials and a colourful cast of “destitutes” are forever altered, Hancox explores unequal consequences for the privileged and the dispossessed. After some 50 years in the publishing industry in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and Italy – – including 16 years as CEO, chairman and president of The Reader’s Digest Association (Canada) Ltd. – –  Hancox taught Topics in Publishing Management at SFU’s Master of Publishing program for almost ten years upon his retirement.1927663334

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Thora Iling

I is for Illing
Former journalist and librarian, Thora Illing wrote a biography of Nellie Cashman (1845 – 1925), nicknamed ‘The Miner’s Angel’, Gold Rush Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Nellie Cashman (TouchWood $18.95). The unorthodox and rugged Cashman was a miner, entrepreneur and philanthropist who lived and worked in some of the toughest boomtowns in the West. She was up and down the coast, from California to Northern B.C., and north and south in the interior from Arizona to Alaska. In addition to staking claims, she set up restaurants, boarding houses and general stores. But she didn’t keep much of the money herself, instead giving away much of it to build hospitals and churches or help fellow miners down on their luck. One of her famous feats was to hike into northern B.C.’s Dease Lake under frigid winter conditions to get to the Cassiar mining area where miners were trapped without sufficient food and dying of scurvy. It took Nellie and six men she hired 77 days to get to the mining site, each on snowshoes pulling a laden sled because the snow was too soft and deep for dogs. They were just in time to save most of the miners. This story passed into legend and Nellie was frequently referred to thereafter as the ‘Angel of the Cassiar.’ Cashman remained tough into her later years and at the age of 77, she earned the title of champion musher of the North. She died in the St. Joseph’s Hospital in Victoria from double pneumonia. The Victoria Daily Times wrote of Cashman, “Like many pioneer women who have known the meaning of hardship, she was of a most kindly disposition, nursing the sick and feeding the hungry and doing all she could to help the unfortunate and her death will be sincerely mourned by a wide circle.” Thora Illing immigrated to Canada as a young woman, fell in love with the space, fjords and forests of the West and stayed. She retired to Sidney. 978-1-77151-159-9

J is for Jones
Kari Jones’ forthcoming tale of West Coast surfing, alcohol abuse and teen angst, At the Edge of the World (Orca 2016) will be also about a deep friendship that becomes burdened by a secret. Maddie and Ivan are long-time friends but as Ivan’s life goes seriously awry, she has to make a decision as to whether or not she tells Ivan’s biggest secret in order to possibly save his life. By letting others know what is going on in Ivan’s family, she will be betraying his trust. 9781459810624

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Jack Knox

K is for Knox
Long-time journalist and columnist Jack Knox has published a collection of his essays and “incoherent ramblings” in Hard Knox: Musings from the Edge of Canada (Heritage $19.95). Advertised as a treasure trove of West Coast wit, Knox refers to Vancouver Island as an “Island of Misfit Toys.” He writes about a place where millennials and elders pay more for their bikes than their cars; Albertans come in droves for a double dose of craft beer and culture shock; and any single man who still has some teeth is referred to as “a catch.” In the book’s dedication, Knox thanks someone named Lucille, “who has stuck with me for more than thirty years. I question her judgment.” Knox was raised in the BC interior, and worked at newspapers in Kamloops, Regina, and Campbell River before joining the Times Colonist in 1988. 9781772031492

Colin D. Levings

L is for Levings
Colin D. Levings’ encyclopedic treatment of how sea-going salmon, trout and char make their transition from fresh to salt water (and the other way) at the river mouth, Ecology of Salmonids in Estuaries Around the World: Adaptations, Habitats and Conservation (UBC Press $75) provides case histories dealing with BC estuaries and species while incorporating conservation issues. There is also an on-line appendix that provides a primer on salmonids and estuaries for the citizen scientist. Also the author of about 200 scientific papers, he increasingly spends time at Pender Harbour, teaching his five grandsons to fish. 978-0-7748-3173-4

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Melanie Murray

M is for Murray
Melanie Murray’s first book, For Your Tomorrow (Random House), is about the life and tragic death of her nephew, a Canadian soldier, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2007. She wrote the book in order to understand why her nephew, an affluent Ph.D candidate and student of Buddhism, was compelled to join the military and risk his life in Afghanistan. In Melanie Murray’s forthcoming second book, Should Auld Acquaintance (Nightwood 2017), Robert Burns’ “Belle of Mauchline” will be given a voice in a lyrical and intimate depiction of the life of Jean Armour, known mainly as the wife of the famous poet and mother of nine of his children. Murray’s biographical approach describes a talented farmer, a forbidden affair and the tumultuous life of an 18th-century Scottish woman. Melanie Murray is a professor of literature, composition and creative writing at Okanagan College in Kelowna. She holds a BA, BEd and MA in English, and a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing.

N is for Namir
God in Pink, the debut novel by Hasan Namir, won the Lambda Literary Award in the category of best gay novel at an awards ceremony in New York on June 6, 2016. Previously it was named to the “Globe 100” list of the best books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. God in Pink (Arsenal Pulp $17.95) is about Ramy, a young Iraqi boy who is gay. Ramy struggles to find a balance between his sexual yearnings and his culture. Having lost his parents, he lives with his strict brother and sister-in-law, who pressure Ramy to marry. Eventually Ramy turns to Ammar, a sheikh at a local mosque. A searing exploration of the world of gay Muslims in Iraq, the book contains graphic depictions of violence juxtaposed against serene moments of beauty. Born in Iraq in 1987, Hasan Namir of Vancouver came to Canada at a young age and holds a BA in English from Simon Fraser University. Hosted by comedienne Kate Clinton at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, the Lambda ceremony brought together over 500 attendees, sponsors, and celebrities to celebrate excellence in LGBT literature and 28 years of the groundbreaking literary awards. 978-1-55152-607-2

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Richard Osler

O is for Osler
A former money manager and financial journalist, Richard Osler turned to writing poems in 2001. His latest collection Hyaena Season (Quattro Books $18) grapples with the extremes of human experience: from dark undercurrents to tender epiphanies. Whether delving into life in the killing grounds of Rwanda and DR Congo, or staying closer to home in Canada and exploring stories of physical and emotional conflict, his focus is always deeply personal, his approach narrative with lyric intensity. Osler lives in Duncan where he is preoccupied on a full-time basis as a poet, workshop leader and blogger. While working as a freelance panelist, he appeared on the CBC Radio’s Morningside with Peter Gzowski more than 200 times over nine years.  978-1-988254-24-1 978-1-987915-20-4

Zoey Leigh Peterson

P is for Peterson
Zoey Leigh Peterson has published her first novel, Next Year, For Sure (Penguin Random House $22) about longtime romantic partners Kathryn and Chris who experiment with an open relationship, which leads them to reconsider everything they thought they knew about love. The story takes place over a year and is at times tumultuous, revelatory and funny. Previous to this, Peterson’s fiction appeared in literary magazines such as EVENT, Grain, PRISM international, and The Walrus. She has also been anthologized in The Journey Prize Stories and Best Canadian Stories. She received the Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction (The Malahat Review) and the Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award (The New Quarterly). Peterson was born in England, grew up in various places in the United States, and eventually moved to Vancouver. 978-0-385-68677-8

Q is for Quartermain
Set in Vancouver, in 1972, U Girl (Talon $19.95) is a coming of age story about Frances Nelson as she arrives in big city for her first year of university, escaping her small-town life. Sexual experimentation, drugs, working at menial jobs, meditating on Wreck Beach and studying at the University of British Columbia during the “free love” era are all incorporated in her struggle to be taken seriously as a woman with a desire for gender equality. 978-1-77201-040-4

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Carolyn Redl

R is for Redl
Having won a writing contest when she was eight years old, Carolyn Redl has been penning stories ever since. She grew up in Saskatchewan, attended the University of Saskatchewan and later earned a PhD in English from the University of Alberta. She eventually ended up teaching in Vancouver. She has written many travel articles, published poetry and short fiction and has a collection of poetry, earthbound (Borealis Press, 1978) and now, a full-length memoir, A Canadian Childhood (FriesenPress 2016).  She grew up on a northern Saskatchewan farm, which became the focus for her memoir, capturing what it was like living a rural Canadian life in the 1940s and 1950s. Redl describes skiing to school, collecting magpie eggs for bounty, and swimming in a frigid snow-melt pond. It is also a coming-of-age story describing Redl’s awareness that her father longed for a son, being bullied at the one-room country school she attended, and moving to town for high school where she lived in a garage. 978-1-4602-8831-3

S is for Sherwood
From 1905 to 1952, there was an agrarian settlement on the north shore of Ootsa Lake in central B.C. about sixty kilometers south of Burns Lake. During the ‘20s and ‘30s, George and Else Seel raised their children towards the western end of the lake near the largest village of Wistaria. Elsie and her son Rupert remained there until 1952 when Kenney Dam construction, as part of the Alcan project, raised the level of Ootsa Lake, flooding their property, also forcing the evacuation of the Cheslatta First Nation. Jay Sherwood’s seventh book, Ootsa Lake Odyssey: George and Else Seel – A Pioneer Life on the Headwaters of the Nechako Watershed (Caitlin $24.95), retrieves the history of that vanished, mixed community. 978–1987915211

T is for Trunkey
One of the benefits of book awards, beyond serving as a good excuse for writers and supportive book folks to break bread, is they can introduce emerging authors such as Laura Trunkey who first received a Social Work degree before veering towards her MFA in Creative Writing through UBC’s Optional Residency program.  After graduating with a degree in social work, she was employed at a shelter for homeless youth and worked with children who have special needs at Tillicum Elementary. A writing class from Lorna Jackson was a major catalyst along the way to becoming a freelance editor and an Artistic Associate of the Victoria Festival of Authors. She has written a children’s novel, The Incredibly Ordinary Danny Chandelier (Annick 2008) and had stories appear in Darwin’s Bastards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow (D&M, 2010) and Pennies in My Pocket: Stories of My Brother (Brindle & Glass 2012). The appearance of her first short fiction collection, Double Dutch (House of Anansi $19.95) hasn’t made her a household name yet either. But now the Victoria resident, who grew up in the Fairfield neighborhood, has been shortlisted for the $5,000 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize for Greater Victoria authors. Appropriately dubbed as weird and wonderful, Trunkey’s stories can delve into bizarre storylines: An elephant named Topsy is killed on Coney Island by Thomas Edison in 1903. Ronald Reagan’s body double falls in love with the first lady. A single mother believes her toddler is the reincarnation of a terrorist. A man grieves for his wife after a bear takes over her body. But other stories can be touching and realistic: A young deaf girl visits Niagara Falls before she goes blind.  9781770898776

U is for Uncharted
Jim McDowell’s book from Ronsdale Press about the first European to reach the area that has become greater Vancouver, Uncharted Waters: The Explorations of José Narváez (1768-1840), received a Silver Medal for Western Canadian history at the Independent Publisher Book Awards that honour the year’s best independently published titles from around the world. Another Ronsdale title, Live Souls: Citizens and Volunteers of Civil War Spain by Serge Alternes and Alec Wainman received a Bronze Medal for European regional history. The IPPY Independent Publisher awards were presented in Chicago before Book Expo America.

Vadym Graifer

V is for Vadym
After writing three books on stock market trading strategies, Vadym Graifer of Victoria decided to alter his diet and lose weight when he was diagnosed with diabetes at age 52. In The Time Machine Diet (RTS 2016) he describes his methodologies to reverse diabetes reversal with better food instead of medications in keeping with his TimeTravelDiet website.  Born in Ukraine in 1961, Vadym Graifer graduated as a construction engineer and rose to a head of a private design and construction company during hi8s country’s transformation after the USSR collapse. He immigrated to Canada in 1996 and lived for ten years in Manitoba before moving to B.C. In Winnipeg, Graifer turned to stock market trading and founded educational company RealityTrader, teaching private investors to manage their portfolio. He has been invited to numerous seminars across North America and the Caribbean as a featured speaker. Upon moving to Victoria, Graifer resumed his life-long hobby, taking photography on a semi-professional basis. His photos have been used by various tourism campaigns. 978-0973779677

Ray Wood

W is for Wood
In a tribute to the model of Land Rover known as “the Defender”, the production of which was discontinued in 2016, Ray Wood wrote Stalking Geraldine (MW Books $33.95. The novel follows freelance journalist Giles Jackson on the look-out for a Land Rover Defender nicknamed Geraldine and its owner Sarah Oakes, both disappeared on a trip through Africa. Giles makes it his mission to find them both. Ray Wood was born in the U.K. but spent his childhood in South Africa. He graduated from the University of Cape Town and once explored the spine of Africa on a Vespa Scooter. For many years, he taught mathematics and ran a wilderness expedition outfit. He lives in a heritage grocery store in West Vancouver when he is not sailing a 37-foot sloop or travelling corners of the world using an elderly Australian-built Land Rover. 9780995277809

X is for Xinjiang
As a sessional lecturer at UBC, Kim Trainor has released Karyotype (Brick $20), a poetry collection about a woman who lived four thousand years ago. Dubbed Loulan, her body has been preserved in the sands of the Taklamakan Desert—the largest desert in China, in the southwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The word karyotype, we are told, is “the characteristic chromosome complement of a species.” Trainor worked in a biomedical library and for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Previously her poetry won the Ralph Gustafson Prize from The Fiddlehead and the Long Poem Prize from The Malahat Review. 978-1-77131-379-7

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Clea Young

Y is for Young
Having had three stories included in Journey Prize collections, Clea Young, another graduate of the UBC Creative Writing department, already had an agent prior to the publication of her first collection stories, Teardown (Freehand $19.95), described as an arresting collection about people “arguing about lamps in IKEA, drinking gin and tonics on a dock in summer, unemployed and without prospects.” Young is currently an Artistic Associate at the Vancouver Writers Festival–prospects unknown. We choose believe Billie Livingston when she writes, “Teardown captures a multitude of lives on the cusp of critical change. Young’s prose is nimble, her dialogue smart. This is a remarkable debut.” 978-988298-01-6

By Sarah Race, www.sarahrace.com

Zena Sharman

Z is for Zena
Editor Zena Sharman’s “moving and incendiary” LGBTQ anthology, The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care (Arsenal $18.95), presents true stories from queer and trans people about their health-care experiences and challenges. From gay men with HIV recalling systemic resistance and to a lesbian couple dealing with the experience of cancer, the stories and essays from health-care providers and activists explore and examine the challenges and politics of LGBTQ health issues in the shadow of the new post-truth Trump era. Contributors include Amber Dawn, Sinclair Sexsmith, Francisco Ibanez-Carrasco, Cooper Lee Bombardier, Kara Sievewright and Vivek Shraya. Zena Sharman co-chairs the board of the Catherine White Holman Wellness Centre, a holistic health care centre for transgender and gender-diverse communities, located on Kingsway in Vancouver. With a Ph.D in interdisciplinary studies from UBC, previously Zena Sharman has co-edited the Lambda Literary award-nominated anthology, Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2011), and she has been a cabaret host, a go-go dancer for a queer punk band and a campus radio DJ. 9781551526584 [photo by Sarah Race]

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