In Vancouver for Beginners, the nostalgia of place is dissected through the mapping of a city where readers are led past surrealist development proposals, post-apocalyptic postcards, childhood landmarks long gone and a developer who paces at the city's edge, shoring it up with aquariums.
In these poems you will traverse a city lined with rivers, not streets. Memory traps and tourist traps reveal themselves, and the ocean glints, elusive, in the background. Here there are many Vancouvers and no Vancouver, a city meant for elsewhere after the flood has swept through. This place of the living and the dead has been rewritten: forests are subsumed by parks, buildings sink and morph, and the climate has changed.
Vancouver for Beginners is a ghost story, an elegy, a love song for a city that is both indecipherable and a microcosm of a world on fire.
Praise forVancouver for Beginners:
"Ingenious, mesmerizing and gorgeously written, Vancouver for Beginners showcases Leslie's remarkable talent and singular voice. It conjures an imagined city that is many cities, a place as fantastical as it is achingly real, a city of the dead and the living, of plexiglass cliffs and electric trees. This is a book to savour and reread." —Ayelet Tsabari, author of The Art of Leaving
"Alex Leslie's Vancouver is as surreal as the dream city itself. These dispatches from Vancouvers past, present, and future overflow with piercing, wry vision. Leslie casts a keen eye over short-sighted development and pans out to the wide-lens perspective of deep time. Meanwhile, the city's inhabitants grapple with the day-to-day: parasitic developers, potentially rising radioactive waters, friends lost one by one to the opioid crisis. Captivating and urgent, Vancouver For Beginners is a must-read for anyone who ever woke up bewildered in Vancouver." —Sachiko Murakami, author Get Me Out of Here
"In Vancouver for Beginners, Alex Leslie beautifully contributes to the long poetic tradition documenting, interrogating, and re-imagining the city of Vancouver. This is a new guidebook that refuses utopia and the erasure of traumatic history. It's a book for after the pipelines and before the collapse but there's still a poet here, in this place, writing the invisible and trusting us to read." —Jordan Scott, author of Night & Ox