With this special 20th Anniversary edition, Richard Van Camp re-releases his first bestselling collection of short stories. There is pain in these stories and there is loss. There is death, but there is also rebirth, and there is always the search from each of the narrators for personal truth. This collection of hilarious and profound stories is where beloved recurring characters Torchy, Sfen, Snowbird, Clarence and Brutus first appeared. Larry Sole from The Lesser Blessed>/i> also appears in this collection, alongside many other characters, all of them linked by themes of hope, the spirit of friendship, and hunger.
Richard has gone on to publish four other short story collections, but Angel Wing Splash Pattern is where his love of the short story--"those perfect universes"--all began. This beautifully redesigned 20th anniversary edition, with a new introduction by the author and two new graphic-novel style stories, proves once again that Richard Van Camp is a master of the short story.
About the author
Richard Van Camp is a proud member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation from Fort Smith, NWT.He is a graduate of the En'owkin International School of Writing, the University of Victoria's Creative Writing BFA Program, and the Master's Degree in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. He is an internationally renowned storyteller and best-selling author. His novel, The Lesser Blessed, is now a movie with First Generation Films and premiered in September of 2012 at the Toronto International Film Festival. He is the author of four collections of short stories, Angel Wing Splash Pattern, The Moon of Letting Go, Godless but Loyal to Heaven and Night Moves, as well as two children's books with Cree artist, George Littlechild: A Man Called Raven and What's the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses?His first baby book, Welcome Song for Baby: A Lullaby for Newborns, was the official selection of the Books for BC Babies program and was given to every newborn baby in British Columbia in 2008. Richard followed this up with another board book: Nighty-Night: A Bedtime Song for Babies. His third book for babies, Little You, is now out with Orca Book Publishers. The amazing Julie Flett is the artist. Little You is published in Bush Cree, Dene and South Slavey, courtesy of the South Slave Divisional Board of Education. His new book for babies with Julie Flett is called "We Sang You Home" and it is gorgeous!All of Richard Van Camp's children's books are available in Braille for free, anywhere in the world, courtesy of the Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired (PRCVI) and Accessible Resource Centre-British Columbia (ARC-BC)Richard has six graphic novels and comic books out: his first comic book on deterring youth away from gangs, Path of the Warrior, is published with Cree artist, Steve Sanderson, through the Healthy Aboriginal Network. His second comic book on sexual health is Kiss Me Deadly, with Haida artist Chris Auchter. His four graphic novels are Three Feathers (published in Bush Cree, Dene, South Slavey and English, illustrated by Krystal Mateus, on restorative justice; The Eisner Award Nominated A Blanket of Butterflies, on the theme of peace making, illustrated by Scott Henderson, The Blue Raven, illustrated by Steve Sanderson on mental health, and Spirit, a suicide prevention comic book illustrated by Emily Brown (which is also published in Bush Cree, Dene, and South Slavey and English).
- Long-listed, First Nations Communities READ
Excerpt: Angel Wing Splash Pattern: 20th Anniversary Edition (by (author) Richard Van Camp)
Pain seared up Icabus' leg forcing him to stop and wince.
He wheezed through one lung, and the mall blurred around him. Hecoughed and his chest sounded and felt as if it were stuffed with thebroken glass of grey light bulbs. This was it: he was dying. The Creemedicine had him.
In his reflection, Icabus hated what he saw. I'm not that skinny,am I? He was bleeding inside and felt so weak. "I seen betterlookin' corpses." Something had blown behind his left eye earlier thatmorning, causing his ears to ring.
The bird. It was dying in front of him. He didn't know what thebird was called but was awed at how bright and blue the feathers were.Parakeet? Parrot? No, he knew it wasn't the true name of thebird's tribe, and he wished he knew. He thought of all the shampoo bottleshis daughter Augustine had and chose the one that smelled the best.
"Papaya," he said. "That's your Dogrib name now: Papaya."
The pet store, which showcased the bird, held it in a cage. Thebird measured three feet from black beak to bright blue tail, yet the cageonly offered four. A sign read: "Do Not Tap Cage." The bird was upsidedown, shitting on itself and biting at the chain that sliced into its leg.The bird, he thought, deserved something far better than this.
Oh, how Icabus wished to be around fire. He was sure thebird was a woman. She panted; her black tongue licked at her swollenankle. She hung awkwardly, rested, shivered, tried to bite at the chain,fell back, shivered again. It looked as if she were drowning. Icabuswatched the bird and felt under his shirt where he was bleeding inside.It was as if he had been force-fed thousands of porcupine quills thatwere growing with each breath. He pressed into his left rib cage as hestrained to open the cage.
"Macaw," a voice said suddenly behind him.
"It's a Macaw."
Icabus turned to look at the wielder of such a firm voice. Itwas a child. An Indian girl. Tall, slim. She was beautiful. Her eyes werelarge and round. She wore a T-shirt with a huge white owl with yelloweyes on it. A younger white boy with a runny nose came up and startedbanging on the cage. The girl left as fast as she had appeared. Icabuswanted to talk to her, but he was hit again with pain. He coughed andcoughed and coughed. He held himself up against the glass and lookeddown until the reddest blood dripped from his mouth. He had to hurry,but where was the sign?
Angel Wing Splash Pattern by Richard Van Camp
Richard Van Camp has a unique way of finding a way into your subconscious. He not so much tells you the stories that come from his part of the universe, but makes you feel them. Every time you finish a Van Camp book, you want to travel to Tłįchϙ territory to meet the amazing people he writes about, and maybe soak up some of that magic he so obviously treasures about his land. The problem with all true storytellers (and Richard certainly is one) is we are frequently burdened with telling the truth, and Angel Wing Splash Pattern tells the truth but in the most delightful ways.
Drew Hayden Taylor, author of Chasing Painted Horses
2nd Edition, Reviewed by Elizabeth Johnston for the Globe and Mail, 2002.
If a dream catcher could talk, it would say Angel Wing Splash Pattern. In this short story collection, Richard Van Camp's northern Canadian stories are as visceral as nightmares, yet beautifully wrought with shiny baubles glinting from their webs.
In "Mermaids", the opening story, Van Camp throws us right into the melee: Drunk and beaten, Torchy stumbles from a tavern into the company of a little native girl, waiting hours in the cold for her mother. Something about her abandonment touches him, and he finds himself telling her the story of why God killed the mermaids. This modern allegory deepens into Torchy's personal pain at losing his brother, which becomes a motif throughout the book: How, in the context of an idealized past, contemporary life rips away the precious and replaces it with lesser jewels.
In the one Edmonton story, "Sky Burial", elder Icabus eats doughnuts to sop up the blood leaking inside him. It's all he can do to keep from crying at havng no one to pass his medicine on to. When a native child, adopted by a white woman, comes to him, he thinks maybe he's found that person. Nearby, a tropical bird hangs upside-down from its perch, trying to bite its way out of a metal leghold. The pathos of the situation floats in the air like the dull echoes of people hanging around in a large, decaying mall.
There's more hanging-around in "Let's Beat the Shit Out of Herman Rosko!", in which Grant and Clarence stand across the street from Herman's house, shivering in the snow, smoking cigarettes, trying to talk themselves into beating up the town's first marriage and sex counsellor, someone they used to harass as kids. In a surprisingly adept and graceful turn, Van Camp gently unmasks male bravado; in the space of a few pages, you not only understand these guys, but like them too.
Van Camp demonstrates this particular talent at much greater length in his novel, The Lesser Blessed, for which he won the 2001 Jugendliteraturpreis, a German literary award.
In Angel Wing Splash Pattern, Richard Van Camp lures you so close to the heat of his characters, yet always with an ice-bit of pain glinting through. Enmeshed in his stories, you come face to face with faceted flashes of the universal struggle to cope with a dazzling, dismaying world.
Other titles by Richard Van Camp
As I Enfold You in Petals
A Blanket of Butterflies
Richard Van Camp on the Joy of Storytelling
Little You / Gidagaashiinh
Det’oni-t’á tai / Three Feathers
Tout petit toi
Tú eres tú
May We Have Enough to Share Read-Along
May We Have Enough to Share
An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories