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Travel Prairie Provinces

Beyond Forget

by (author) Mark Abley

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Feb 2012
Prairie Provinces
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2012

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In 1985 Mark Abley set out on a voyage of rediscovery, of reconciliation, to wander the Canadian prairies and to come to terms with the place of his upbringing. Leaving Saskatoon, he drove south to find, then go beyond, the town of Forget (pronounced For-jay). From there he drove in a huge looping butterfly shape through the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.

This book of travel is a wonderfully fresh and vivid observation of people, places and patterns. While revealing the diversity, eccentricity and individuality of the prairies, Abley not only informs the narrative with history and literature but illuminates it with a fine feeling for landscape and wildlife.

Here are the prairies revealed by a traveler with an eye for the idiosyncratic as well as the sublime: dust storms and country music; the former brothels of Moose Jaw and the Indian petroglyphs of Writing-on-Stone Park; the badlands of the Big Muddy and the civilizing tone of Gimli; the forlorn dignity of deserted churches and the excesses of West Edmonton Mall. On visits to farms, ranches, Indian reserves and religious settlements, Abley meets medicine men and missionaries, cowboys and grain farmers, immigrants and dreamers.

One compelling theme is the effect of the prairies on the human imagination, on writers such as Wallace Stegner and T.E. Hulme, and on famous frauds such as T. Lobsang Rampa, Grey Owl, Frederick Philip Grove and Buffalo Child Long Lance.

Mark Abley has utilized the breadth and flexibility of the travel writing genre to create a subjective, informed, joyous and at times ironic but always perceptive look at the Canadian prairies. This book marks the debut of a talented and exciting young writer.

This is a new release of the book published in November 1987.

About the author

Mark Abley was born in Leamington Spa, England, in 1955. From age six to twenty he lived in Lethbridge and Saskatoon. After winning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan, he went to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship and received his Master of Arts degree in English Language and Literature. He and his wife live in Montreal.

For the past seven years, Mark Abley has been a contributing editor to Macleans's and a regular writer for Saturday Night, CBC Radio's "Ideas" and The Times Literary Supplement. He has also written for the Globe and Mail, Canadian Literature, The Listener, and the New Statesman.

Mark Abley's profile page

Other titles by Mark Abley