The moody, atmospheric stories are delectable, if richly dark and shadowy (as in 1940s Hollywood: think Double Indemnity or The Postman Always Rings Twice). They’d nestle comfortably on a shelf of literary depictions of the West and hardscrabble rural existence laden with American heavyweights like Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian (not to mention works by Guy Vanderhaeghe, early Alice Munro, and Sinclair Ross). —Brett Josef Grubisic, The Winnipeg Review
Reading in Charlottetown, PEI
Saturday July 26 at 2PM
Confederation Centre Public Library
The word nostalgia comes from two Greek roots—nostos, meaning the return home, and algos, meaning pain or longing. The Western Home tells the story of the folk song “Home on the Range” through characters seeking to integrate their experiences of upheaval and alienation into meaning and identity—to transform their longing into belonging, their pain into understanding—by retreat to the safety of an ideal. “Home on the Range” is the protagonist of The Western Home, and the supporting characters are the people who helped shape the song’s destiny by writing, rewriting, singing, recording, claiming and disowning it. Each story in the collection takes place in a different decade following the year of the song’s composition as a poem, in 1872. Beginning with the lonely, alcoholic pioneer, Brewster Higley, who wrote the poem, and concluding with a disaffected teenager who works in a rural Kansas tourist kiosk near the original site of the poem’s composition, this collection explores themes of collective memory, collective forgetting and the loss that is implied in both. Whether they are seeking out ideal landscapes, or pursuing invincible beliefs, or trying to make meaning out of chaos, the characters in these stories are all trying find a way home.
Catherine Cooper’s The Western Home is a tour de force that evokes, re-invents and brings vividly to life the many stories of the song that came to be known as “Home on the Range.” Each story is an utterly engrossing revelation of character and of era, as well as of the American West. Cooper has performed a bit of magic here, choosing a simple song as point of entry into her fictional world and conjuring wonders from it. —Terence Byrnes
Purchase from your Local Independent Bookseller or from Amazon.
A new volume of poetry, Light, by the award-winning Canadian poet Souvankham Thammavongsa, was published in September 2013 by Pedlar Press, with Catharine Nicholson’s picture ‘The Viable’ as the design for the front cover. Light contains forty-two poems, just as ‘The Viable’ shows forty-two acorns.
Souvankham Thammavongsa’s glorious new collection has won the 2013 CBC Bookie.
“Each Souvankham Thammavongsa poem feels like an event, which makes a new collection akin to a small riot. In Light, she does what only very good poets do: sees the things others miss. This is the work of a poet at the top of her game.” — Kevin Connolly
“Thammavongsa’s range is impressive, and much of the book’s power lies in its ability to shift gears entirely, moving between spacious meditations that find words sprinkled like ashes across the page (“A volcano / is / what happens / when you try / to take / the sun down / from where it is”) to moments of concrete and visceral experience, as in the unforgettable At the Farm: “I heard a gunshot by the barn and thought nothing of it / We were at a farm / I saw a cow come charging forward with its head half gone.” This new collection confirms Thammavongsa’s place as one of the most interesting younger poets at work in the country.” – Jared Bland
The publisher of Pedlar Press, Beth Follett, gives a full account of the Thammavongsa-Nicholson connection: http://lpg.ca/BB/Light
*For more information about Catharine Nicholson, acclaimed botany artist, visit: