Sarah de Leeuw, Unmarked

I tell you, I really enjoyed Sarah de Leeuw's Unmarked: Landscapes Along Highway 16 (which runs from Prince Rupert to Prince George in BC, for the uninitiated). 

Partly it's the sense of recognition. I've never lived up there, and I've only been to Prince Rupert once and onto the highway a handful of times, but Unmarked gives you a version of BC I'm comfortable with, from growing up in the Thompson-Shuswap myself.

Partly it's just fun to watch a young(er) writer using almost the whole toolbox. She deliberately cuts out commas in lists, for example, to express movement and to emphasize both the simultaneity of experience and the running together of memories. Some essays are in the second person, too, which is always fun, though most are in the first or third.

But mostly it's the intimacy of it, the sense of real youthfulness in these recollections. It's an adult writing from within an experience that no longer envelops her, but with a very sure hand. The persistent references to teen fears of pregnancy, for example, and to alcohol; the rough deaths that happen in small towns; the keen childhood observations that impose no judgment on what's seen: these things involve me in the book.

I'm looking forward to teaching Unmarked!

For a bit more, check ABC Bookword. For a really great post, see rob mclennan on de Leeuw and Stan Dragland.

(Unfortunately it does suffer from weak editing, which can happen at small publishing houses. Spelling counts, and even when an author submits a mistake, an editor needs to catch it: NeWest Press needs to keep an eye on the person assigned to this book, I'd say.)


Anonymous said…
Somewhat of a non-sequitur this but knowing of you interest in graphic novels with about failed utopias and your interest in Canadian wilderness and more specifically dams in the Canadian wilderness I thought you would be interested in the following :

Seemed like too much of a merging of your interests not to pass it on. Feel free to delete this post from the comments, posted it here since I don't have an email address for you.
Anonymous said…
Looks like the link didn't work, if you go to the Drawn and Quarterly site then the shop and then the author is Pascal Blanchet and the book I tried to link to was 'White Rapids'. I imagine this isn't news to you but on the off-chance that it is I hope it is of interest.
richard said…
Dude, this is outSTANDing stuff! This goes on to my must-buy list, tout de suite.

(Incidentally, to put a link in a comment, you need an html code: an opening triangular bracket, then a=href, then the address inside quotation marks, and a closing triangular bracket. After the word or words you want as an active hyperlink, enclose /a inside triangular brackets. Blogger doesn't automatically do hyperlinks.)

Like this: White Rapids looks terrific! It was news to me -- I appreciate the tip.
Anonymous said…
Glad it was useful.

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