Harold Macy’s story collection highlights the particular magic of the West Coast, reﬂecting on how we both shape—and are shaped by—the land we inhabit.
Whether he’s chronicling fallen old-growth monarchs sprawled on a steep slope up-coast, the brassy orchestra of trumpeter swans, or the ecstasy of a smokejumper’s fall from the sky, Harold Macy contemplates the beauty of all that British Columbia has to offer with graceful lyricism and appreciation for the natural world.
It is the human ties to the land that shine in Macy’s stories: everyday fishermen and loggers, gardeners and wildland firefighters, rock blasters and island homesteaders. From the rich bounty of the glacial loam to the wondrous stands of Sitka spruce, BC’s natural landscape is as much a character in Macy’s tales as any person.
Check out other great titles with Macy's list of recommended reads below.
And the Birds Rained Down, by Jacelyn Saucier
This short, intense novel tells of two octogenarians in the northern Ontario forest who chose to “make do” with what they make and do. Not a cute “back to the land” epic, but a saga of determination free of ties and imposed expectations. Until they get visitors. A Canada Reads selection.
The Golden Spruce, by John Vaillant
Another visionary, though some would call him misplaced or even perhaps mad, commits an act destroying an example of what he hoped to save. Paying the ultimate price himself? No one ever knows for sure. A Governor General's Literary Award winner.
The Outlander, by Gil Adamson
In the early 1900s, in the wild mountains of Crowsnest Pass, BC, a young woman is alone. One step ahead of dogs and vengeful men, and a recent widow thanks to her own justified hand. This Gothic Western is a page-turner with twists at every shadow.
Broken Ground, by Jack Hodgins
After the Great War (so-called by those far from the guns, gas and gore), a group of survivors straggle back to Vancouver Island to receive their allotments of stumps and swamp as payment for serving the King and Country. The new adversary is not the Hun or even the conniving bureaucrats, but an immense forest fire that calls on the small community to find strength from each other.
The Friends of Meagre Fortune, by David Adams Richards
There are some writers whose craft is so subtly and skilfully applied, I have to pause after each sentence to fully digest what wonderful thing has just happened. Though the characters are often unpleasant and coarse, they are believably similar to us, or those we know.
The Measure of a Man, by J.J. Lee
A nice suit, family dynamics between a father and son, the search for one’s place in the world. Themes we all must explore set in the metaphor of a tailor’s shop.
Home Schooling, by Carol Windley
This collection of short stories was a Giller Prize finalist and each story could be a stand-alone novella.
Cool Water, by Dianne Warren
Like the title, this Governor General's Literary Award-winning novel refreshes and quenches; gulping from a deep well in an emotional dry land I drink and shiver to my bones.
Diamond Grill, by Fred Wah
Reading this prose transports me to a time of chrome counter stools, shiny Formica tables, and glass shelves displaying pies with tall, meringue toppings. A true Canadian epic of both hot turkey sandwiches with gravy and fried rice, egg foo yung. Hyphenated citizens gathered for a meal in Nelson, 1951.
Mnemonic: A Book of Trees, by Teresa Kishkan
Kishkan writes of trees, culture, her personal travels, and thoughts on arboreal mythology. Entertainment beneath a spread of bows. What’s not to inspire?
Small Beneath the Sky, by Lorna Crozier
Another excellent work by this renowned author. She explores the connection between the wide prairie of her youth. My wife and I are both transplanted, grateful prairie dogs and despite living on this blessed and bountiful island for over fifty years, we still hear the wind of the grasslands in these pages.
Tom Wayman, Patrick Lane, Sid Marty, Peter Trower, and Howard White—among many other writers—have given voice to literature on the job. White collar, blue collar, greasy uniform, blood-stained scrubs, stanfields soaked … we owe them so much.
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