Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Malcolm Lowry’s Bravest Boat offers one of the better descriptions or encounters with Vancouver I’ve ever read. Really it’s astonishing to read those paragraphs and find within them both the past and resonance of the present.

Lowry, based on the correspondence I read, took a dim view on the city at the time he wrote it. (Likely influenced by his conservationist overtones springing from his enrapture with trees). I find him a bit exhausting on trees and seagulls. I’m much more interested in seeing and hearing what I miss(ed) standing on the roads each day. The trees make their presence amply felt, I don’t need them hauled up on a pulley and lamented. I find writers cave in too readily to this temptation. Conducting a tree gospel or rhapsody.

I continue to see where the travel writing aspect of early Vancouver/BC literature (1920’s earlier and after-ish) now breaks off into less of a “come with me and I’ll show you” point of view, but instead a narrator who assumes you’re right here beside him/her.  It’s much more interesting when the narrator assumes you know something of the city, even if you don’t, it’s a more mature literature somehow. And my favourite is where they obscure the city by renaming it or not naming it or generally give you little, but these exquisite moments like the rhythm of the way people move or some tiny thing (anthropology of the ordinary) where, you, the reader, get an “ah yes” moment of recognition.  There’s a particular taste of a certain cup of tea, it reminds me off. Same brand of teabag, yet you do not always experience it.


Volcano: An inquiry into the life and death of Malcolm Lowry was an NFB funded documentary made about Malcolm Lowry in 1976 by Donald Brittain and John Kramer.  (it’s viewable at the NFB site, along with a plethora of other documentaries, films, animation)

I was listening to the audio of this film while I worked today and the part that captivated my attention was the description related to the jetty that Lowry built by his shack in Dollerton, that withstood the weather and storms in the area. He was overcome with great sadness when he later heard it was no more.

Curiously he appeared numb or in the process of constant numbing to just about everything else.  (Except when his shack burnt down, did he also build the shack? I can’t remember)

My ears also piqued at his early mention of gardening, how if or when he had a garden he’d grow nothing in it etc. and the latter description of gardening that came up in the final fragment before his life ended.