It's often said that the main export of the Maritimes is Maritimers, and the same is true of Newfoundland. "Going down the road" is a way of life, but so is coming home for Christmas. It is tradition marked by happiness, fun, and sometimes less comfortable emotions. Given the regional penchant for yarn spinning, this common experience yields an abundance of stories.
In An Orange from Portugal, editor Anne Simpson takes liberties with the concept of "story" to produce a book bursting with Christmas flavour. Many of her choices are fiction, others are memoirs, tall tales, poems, or essays, and still others defy classification. Some authors are nationally and even internationally famous, some are well known in the region, and others are published here for the first time. Spanning more than a century of seasonal writing, the collection includes a description of killing a pig aboard the sailing ship Argonauta for Christmas dinner; Hugh MacLennan"s Halifax waif who wants nothing more than for Santa to bring him a real orange, an orange from Portugal; a story by Alden Nowlan and another by Harry Bruce giving very different versions of what the animals in the barn do on Christmas Eve; a story about Jewish children hanging up their stockings; and very new work by young writers Lisa Moore and Michael Crummey. Beautiful poems by Lynn Davies, Milton Acorn and others leaven the collection for readers of all persuasions. Other authors include: Wayne Johnston, Mary Pratt, David Adams Richards, Carol Bruneau, Wilfred Grenfeld, L.M. Montgomery, Paul Bowdring, Grace Ladd, Herb Curtis, Joan Clark, Ernest Buckler, Rhoda Graser, Bert Batstone, Elisabeth Harvor, David Weale, Charles G.D. Roberts, Ronald F. Hawkins, Mark Jarman, Elsie Charles Basque, Richard Cumyn, Herménégilde Chiasson, Stan Dragland, Alistair MacLeod, and Bernice Morgan.
An Orange from Portugal is a Christmas feast, with the scent of turkey and the sound of laughter wafting from the kitchen, and a flurry of snow outside the window.
About the authors
Mark Anthony Jarman is the author of 19 Knives, New Orleans Is Sinking, Dancing Nightly in the Tavern, and the travel book Ireland's Eye. His novel, Salvage King Ya!, is on Amazon.ca's list of 50 Essential Canadian Books and is the number one book on Amazon's list of best hockey fiction.
He has been short-listed for the O. Henry Prize and Best American Essays, he won a Gold National Magazine Award in nonfiction, has twice won the Maclean-Hunter Endowment Award, won the Jack Hodgins Fiction Prize, and has been included in The Journey Prize Anthology and Best Canadian Stories.
He has published recently in Walrus, Canadian Geographic, Hobart, The Barcelona Review, Vrij Nederland, and reviews for The Globe & Mail. He is a graduate of The Iowa Writers' Workshop, a Yaddo fellow, has taught at the University of Victoria, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and now teaches at the University of New Brunswick, where he is fiction editor of The Fiddlehead.
His newest collection of stories, My White Planet, was published in 2008.
Herménégilde Chiasson has been called "the spokesperson and conscience of the young Acadian poetry." His poetry has been nominated for and won the Governor General's Award and twice won the Prix France-Acadie. In 1990 the French government named him a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. Herménégilde Chiasson studied visual arts at Mount Allison University, Université de Moncton, and New York University, and received his PhD from the Sorbonne. He has produced some 15 films, written 20 plays, and exhibited his paintings and photographs in galleries in the Maritimes, Toronto, and internationally. In 2001, Chiasson was one of a select group of artists chosen to accompany Governor General Adrienne Clarkson to South America. This special state visit was organized to foster new cultural and social links between Canada, Chile and Argentina.
"[Christmas] is a conflict of emotion captured beautifully in this terrific, ranging collection... The significance of the orange as the sensuous apotheosis of the season is especially pervasive in the older stories... plenty here to warm the cockles of the heart, too, should they require warming... Despite its title, the vast majority of these narratives are strong enough to be enjoyed during any season."
<i>Quill & Quire</i>