Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Alberta Bound

Contributor notaconnoisseur is currently living in Canada and kindly sent me a collection of short stories she found there: Alberta Bound: Thirty Stories by Alberta Writers.

The stories range in length, topic, and tenor. In “Harris” by Shirlee Matheson, the narrator recounts childhood experiences at a Ukrainian country school. Nancy Holmes’s “Bugs” is told from the perspective of a daughter of immigrant parents. She watches her family manipulated and taken advantage of by their Canadian landlords. Two women from a retirement home “paint the town red” in Edna Alford’s “Half Past Eight.”

Not too surprisingly, I was most drawn to the stories featuring Ukrainian-Canadian characters as Alberta has a significant population. Many stories tackle the issue of immigration, a recurring topic in both Canadian and American culture and literature.

Although the collection was published in the 1980s, it has a much older feel. The settings and characters are often reminiscent of American pioneer literature. The land is a significant character in the stories as the humans struggle with taming or succumbing to the wilderness. This theme reminds me of American short stories from a century ago by Willa Cather or even Jack London.

I would be interested in reading stories written in the last decade to track the evolution of Alberta’s literature.


notaconnoisseur said...

I have often thought that a collection of short stories could be improved by adding the date of publication to each story. Even now stories written in the 1990s feel dated because few people had cell phones. I am currently reading "The Edge of Doom" by Amanda Cross. In the beginning of the book Kate Fransler wants to check up on someone. My immediate response was 'why didn't she check on the Internet?' The copyright on the book is 2002. Kate Fransler a professor of literature at a large NYC university doesn't seem to have moved into the 21st century.

Blogger said...

I often feel aggravated reading supposedly current books or even watching current movies when characters don't use the internet or even cell phones when it is so obvious they should.

notaconnoisseur said...

In the Amanda Cross the characters check DNA for parentage but don't check on Google for the background of a successful architect. And Fransler's husband is supposed to be a former DA in NYC. I feel as if Amanda Cross/Carolyn Heilbrun was letting life pass her by. Maybe she couldn't deal with the changing world and that is why she killed herself in the fall of 2003. The Edge of Doom was her last published book.