“By June, Philip’s view of English Bay, what’s left of it, will be utterly gone. It was always going to happen. For years now, it’s been getting harder and harder to see what’s out there. For years now, it’s been getting harder and harder to know what to do.”
From one of Canada’s most beloved personalities comes this delightful collection set around Christmastime in Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood. The eight linked stories in Bill Richardson’s I Saw Three Ships take their direction from the seasonal tug-of-war between expectation and disappointment that occurs as the light deepens. The pieces, all irresistibly funny, give shelter to characters whose experiences of transcendence leave them more alienated than consoled. Rosellen, forced to move because her building is slated for demolition, has her last meeting with J.C., the ghost who’s entertained (and sometimes tormented) her for the last forty years. Frances, undergoing chemotherapy, discovers a gorgeous wig that might be made from the hair sold by Della in O. Henry’s ironic short story “The Gift of the Magi.” Bonnie, writing to Peter Gzowski to apprise him of the death of her mother, Gzowski’s biggest fan, settles on the best way to disperse her mother’s ashes. On Christmas Eve, a man whose name happens to be Leonard Cohen becomes the unwitting plaything of Saint Zita of Lucca and walks through Vancouver’s snowy Downtown neighbourhood wearing a wedding gown.
These are quirky stories, sometimes twisted, sometimes tender, intended for anyone who’s ever been stuck with their wheels spinning at the corner of Pagan and Holy.
Bill Richardson, winner of the Stephen Leacock medal for humour and former CBC Radio personality, is the author of numerous books for both adults and children, including plays, poetry, and fiction.