When How I Spent My Summer Holidays was first published in 1981 a Western reviewer wrote: “If Who Has Seen the Wind told the story of a young boy’s coming to terms with death, How I Spent My Summer Holidays tells of a young man’s attempt to come to terms with his own sexuality and that of the world around him.”
The twelve-year-old young man is Hugh, and in small-town Saskatchewan it is the hot summer of 1924. When Hugh and his friends dig a secret cave out on the Prairie, they soon find it occupied by an escaped patient from the mental hospital. Defying the adult world, the boys become involved with a former war hero and current rum-runner, King Motherwell, in sheltering and feeding the runaway. When passions aroused by sex explode into murder, Hugh leaves his boyhood behind him for ever.
W.O. MITCHELL was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, in 1914. He studied at the University of Manitoba and lived most of his life in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Alberta, until he and his wife, Merna, subsequently moved to Calgary, where he would remain for the rest of his life. During a very varied career Bill Mitchell travelled widely and was everything from a Depression hobo to the fiction editor of Maclean's to a gifted teacher and writing instructor. His best-loved book, Who Has Seen the Wind, was hailed as the greatest Canadian book on boyhood, and complementing that book was his 1981 bestseller How I Spent My Summer Holidays, hailed by some critics as his finest novel. He penned a number of other bestsellers, including Since Daisy Creek (1984), Ladybug, Ladybug...(1988), Roses Are Difficult Here (1990), For Art's Sake (1992) and The Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon (1993)--illustrated by Wesley W. Bates. Besides The Kite (1962) and The Vanishing Point (1973), he was also noted for his two collections of short stories: Jake and the Kid (1962) and According to Jake and the Kid (1989). Mitchell was also a successful playwright whose five plays are included in the collection entitled Dramatic W.O. Mitchell. Among his many awards were the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, awarded for his short story collections. He was also made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1973 and awarded the Writers Guild of Alberta Golden Pen Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1994. W.O. Mitchell died in February 1998 at his home in Calgary.
“Moving, vivid and exciting…a beautiful, rich and utterly fascinating novel.”
“Bawdy and raunchy…an uncannily accurate feel for the emotional viewpoint of a 12-year old boy.”
–The Globe and Mail
“Astonishing.…Mitchell turns the pastoral myth of prairie boyhood inside out.”