Monday, February 8, 2010

Tofino Books: Silent Inlet

For a small town, we have an incredibly creative population. There are many artists and creative types, including writers. (There's even a little section in town a few of us call The Writers' Block as there are six fairly serious writers living on it.) I've a stack of books in my office that I'll start profiling in a feature called (quite unimaginatively, I realize) Tofino Books. Books are, of course, a wonderful way to get a glimpse into a place and I'll begin with one of my favourites: Silent Inlet.

I'll come clean right up front — this book is written by my buddy Joanna Streetly. Set in a fictional Hanson Bay, Joanna has captured beautifully the nature of the west coast — the fog-draped mountains, the drippy gray days, the captivating beauty. In Silent Inlet she weaves together the stories of Harry (Harriet), a feisty older woman who lives alone "in the sound," Harry's daughter Hannah, who is returning to town with some heavy baggage (and no suitcases), Big Mack Stanley, a very large and thoroughly likeable, but troubled, Native man, and his nephew Lonny, who quickly charms his way into the reader's heart.

This is a bit from the jacket blurb: "As their lives intertwine, misunderstandings bring them to the brink of tragedy. Their story, of love gained and lost, of the bonds of family and community that can heal or destroy, is timeless. Their destiny is shaped by west coast history, First Nations culture, and the forces of Nature."

Joanna has captured not only the setting perfectly (and she knows this place well, having lived on a floathouse in Clayoquot Sound for many years), but also the people who, by choice or birthright, have made the west coast their home. It's a great read whether or not you are visiting the coast, but ideal if you are travelling anywhere from Port Renfrew to Prince Rupert.

More info:

An introduction to the book by Joanna where she writes:

Silent Inlet reaches for the raw physicality of people and place: people who are caught in the sea of turbulence, hardship and brilliance that characterizes the west coast. The story brings the elemental atmosphere of the east coast novel genre to a more complex, wild setting.

The challenge of this novel is to paint the west coast through different eyes; to lay out a spectrum of perspectives, caught in which the reader can grasp the diversity of human lives, as shaped by history and the forces of nature.

And here is a review from BC Bookworld.

Silent Inlet is published by Oolichan Books. (And if you are wondering what an oolichan [eulachon] is, check this out.]

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