Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Library by night has a strange rumbling to it, accompanied mostly by chairs scraping, the click of keyboards, bags opening and closing, and sneaky phone calls being whispered like the one I just received telling me we have won a football match.

I was just knitting and puzzling my way through a digitized version of Irene Baird’s novel John. (a pastoral romance, a kind of breathless Jane Austen in a BC lake/boat/postman setting). I am glad there was a digital version as I would not like to have put aside drafty time in rare books (where the only hard copy is) to discover this was what awaited me.

Something resonant in this paragraph:

“Those were the sort, John would reflect after an evening spent in their presence, who had never discovered how good life was for its own sake. Where you spent it was not half the urgent matter that most people supposed. ”

And downright peculiar in the final line of this one:

“The sort of man, John I can’t imagine un-faithful. There are some men like that — rare ones perhaps — to whom disloyalty, once they marry, never seems to occur. That’s how he is, John; that’s how he’ll always be and yet — ”

She broke off and began nervously to twist up the hairs on John’s cuff. …”

A reoccurring question I have as I read BC/Vancouver fiction is who were these novelists writing to? I’m with Ethel Wilson en ce moment and I do have the sense the novel (Swamp Angel) is written to a reader who is “elsewhere”.

Has this changed? Does it matter? Is there a degree of apologizing in advance? The introductory swathe to “where we are” is curious, the need to situate.

I begin to see musical genres within this fiction ….

*

On the other side of the road non-fiction, the range of what’s been written is so extensive, I wonder if there’s anything left that hasn’t been considered in relation to the local. (cows, bridges, CFL are all covered)

Waste Heritage

“A cordon of police was drawn up in front of the smashed-in store fronts keeping the crowds back. Here and there a moronic souvenir hunter dived for a scrap of broken glass or any relic that had been missed by the early morning clean-up job. The people milled solid for five blocks. There was a line of seven street cars where the service had got dislocated. They snailed along striking their gongs. The shrill of the gongs, the honking of horns and the jamming-in of gears kept up all the time as the traffic crawled along in first. It was one of those freak turn-outs. A woman leant from a car yelling and waving a red flag. No one paid any attention to her. That was the kind of thing that was in the air all over town. Hysteria. Mob hysteria. All on account of a few hundred jobless evicted from a three weeks-old-sit-down.

The kinds of things people did that day were the kind they do in a market panic or just after war has been declared. …”

From Waste Heritage by Irene Baird (first published in 1939, this edition Univ of Ottawa Press 2007. Edited by Colin Hill)