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.