A new and exquisite volume of critical essays by Stan Dragland, one of Canada's best essayists, **Strangers and Others: Newfoundland Essays** is a collection of Dragland's writings on Newfoundland subjects, literary and otherwise. (Novelists Paul Bowdring and Lisa Moore, poet Agnes Walsh. . .) He has approached the material from the perspective of an inside/outsider in Newfoundland: a resident of Newfoundland originally from elsewhere who nevertheless finds the figure of the stranger inscribed in much Newfoundland art. Edited by Don McKay.
But where I really like to work during the summers, and where I'm writing this, is in my small second-floor study in the two-storey saltbox house in Champney's East, three hours north and east of St. John's, at a desk I made by disassembling and cutting down a really heavy old desk I found at the local dump. It has a beautiful warm old wood surface. I also built bookshelves for one end of the room. Several factors make this my current favourite space for writing or editing: 1) I love scrounging and recycling (recently I have been writing about being a sort of bricoleur, a worker with found materials, including words). 2) I made it myself. Doing so gives me as much pleasure as anything I get down on the page -- more, maybe, or at least sooner, since building with physical materials happens in one swoop and is then over, whereas writing takes many surges and requires many, many revisions. 3) It's in an old house that Beth Follett and I have been fixing up, the house where we spend our summers, and the house has a shed that I've really been working on, and both shed and house overlook the beautiful Trinity Bight on Newfoundland's Bonavista Peninsula.I like having a room to work in that pleases me, and in that room I like having plenty of surfaces on which to place various sorts of work-in-progress, because I'm seldom going at one thing at a time, at least until it's time for a particular project to be rounded off. Then I'll work obsessively until that's done and give it to a friend or friends to read. The upshot of the feedback will always be no, it's not done. So then I'll go back to the drawing board, literally one or the other of my desks, though the real drawing board is my mind. -Open Book: Toronto