HARRISON, Keith




Author Tags: Crime, Fiction

Born in Vancouver in 1945, Keith Harrison grew up on the West Coast and studied at UBC, where he took a creative writing course from Earle Birney, he played for Canada's National Field Hockey team, and he graduated with an Honours English degree in 1967. He moved to California, receiving an MA from Berkeley in 1968. Returning to Canada, he completed a Ph.D (Dean's Honours List, 1972) at McGill University, writing on the works of Malcolm Lowry. For nearly two decades he lived and worked in Montreal, teaching primarily at Dawson College. In 1991 Keith Harrison returned to B.C., and began teaching at Malaspina University-College, known as Vancouver Island University.

He lives primarily on Hornby Island with his wife JoAnn, a film producer and fabric artist, whom he met in grade four. In addition to his books of fiction, Harrison has written scholarly articles focused on such writers as Byron, Patrick Lane, Pat Lowther, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Melville, Ian McEwan, Ondaatje and Shakespeare. He has also written essays on documentary film, comics, exploration literature, narrative theory and ice hockey.

In a nutshell: Harrison has written a group of stories, Crossing the Gulf (1998), which contains a piece that won the Okanagan Short Story Award, and he has also edited an anthology of short fiction, Islands West: Stories from the Coast (2001). His five novels are Dead Ends (1981), a tale of two cities, Vancouver and Montréal, After Six Days (1985), about a couple of contemporary couples, Eyemouth (1990), set mainly in Scotland during the French Revolution and its aftermath and taking the form of letters, Furry Creek (1999), a documentary fiction exploring the life, death, and art of Pat Lowther, and Elliot & Me (2006), a doubled-voiced narrative about a mother and her teenaged son. His literary papers are archived in Special Collections, The Simon Fraser University Library.

Keith Harrison’s ‘non-fiction novel’ Furry Creek: A True-Life Novel (Oolichan, $17.95) is literary archaeology—a hybrid of court transcripts, letters, literary criticism, poetry, ‘quasi-biography’ and shards of autobiography. It investigates the murder of poet Pat Lowther by her husband and also pays homage to her life and work. Harrison first encountered Lowther’s writing while teaching poetry at Dawson College in Montreal, prior to Lowther’s murder. At the time he was drawn by her West Coast imagery. The attraction to Lowther’s poetry remains at the exploratory heart of Furry Creek 25 years later. “The first piece I wrote about her appeared in Canadian Literature,” he says. “At the time I didn’t want to resolve things into clean sentences and shapely paragraphs. I wanted to stay close to the words, to the sounds of the words. As a scholar and as a novelist, I wanted to bring her life and her place into some kind of resonance. I wanted to write something that would be respectful of her work, but would also be a jumping off place for my own.”

Harrison went to the Vancouver Court House to get trial records and was surprised to learn that not all court records are kept and, if they are kept, they are not available to the public. He wrote a letter to Chief Justice Dohm requesting access to the Lowther transcripts. Beth Lowther was visiting Judge Dohm trying to get access to a rare photograph of her mother. Judge Dohm passed along Keith Harrison’s phone number and Pat Lowther’s daughter, Beth, got in touch. “I had intended not to contact the family at all,” says Harrison. “Partly I didn’t want to invade their privacy and partly I wanted to retain my independent view of things. But Beth Lowther was enormously generous. And so was Christine Lowther. The estate gave me permission to quote from Pat Lowther’s work. It was a real turning point for me. The end result is a mediated biography of sorts. Now we have this remarkable second wave. We have gone from silence about Pat Lowther for over a decade to all this activity. So silence doesn’t necessarily mean neglect; sometimes it can mean gestation.”

According to Oolichan Books, Harrison's novel Elliot & Me is "a tender, funny, moving double narrative about two people who don’t understand each other. Elliot is a bright, reckless 17-year old who has just quit school late in his graduating year. Megan, his mother, is a woman who is haunted by the death of her father while she was 'traipsing' through China, and is tired of being viewed as a beautiful work of art. The threatened return of Elliot’s father, Jack, a huge American ex-ballplayer, causes Megan and Elliot to flee from their home in East Vancouver to Hornby Island. Here, in an idyllic and very photogenic setting, this displaced odd couple—an angst-ridden, vibrant, self-destructive teenager and his inwardly questing mother whose physical loveliness makes her a target for other people’s dreams—experience a highly consequential summer."

Harrison's 1990 diary style novel Eyemouth recalls a maritime disaster that killed his great-grandfather who lived in Eyemouth, Scotland. Nineteen years later Harrison was invited to Eyemouth as a featured speaker for the town's literary festival. Eyemouth was described in The Montreal Gazette as "an audacious work of art." It was a finalist for QSPELL’s Hugh MacLennan Fiction Prize and chosen by Mark Abley on Montreal CBC radio as Book of the Year. In the essay about Eyemouth below, he writes, "For me, the writing of a novel has affinities with my ancestral traditions of fishing. Repeatedly, you go out into the wet cold dark, float around, steer a little this way, then that, bait the hooks with numb fingers, try not to fall overboard, a big wave washes over you, you try not to lose your footing, feel chilled and taste too much salt in your mouth, but still hope to catch something, or at least make it back to shore safely."

Keith Harrison's understated love story, The Missionary, The Violinist and the Aunt Whose Head Was Squeezed (Oolichan $18.95), is a non-fiction work braiding more family history, travel writing and cultural anthropology.

AWARDS:

Finalist for Best First Novel in Canada Award, 1981;
Finalist for QSPELL Hugh MacLennan Fiction Prize, 1990,
Okanagan Short Story Award, 1991;
Finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, 1999;
Selected for the BC 2000 Award.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

The Violinist and the Aunt Whose Head Was Squeezed (Oolichan 2010). 978-088982-265-8.
Elliot & Me (novel): Oolichan, 2006
(Editor of) Islands West: Stories from the Coast: Oolichan, 2001.
Furry Creek (non-fiction novel): Oolichan, 1999. 88982-182-8
Crossing the Gulf (short stories): Oolichan, 1998.
Eyemouth (novel): Goose Lane, 1990.
After Six Days (novel): Goose Lane, 1985.
Dead Ends (novel): Quadrant, 1981.

EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN WRITING: Departments of English and Creative Writing & Journalism at Malaspina University-College

PHOTO by Marlis Funk

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2009] "Fiction" "Literary Biography"

Islands West: Stories from the Coast (Oolichan $22.95)
Info



It weighs in at 400-plus pages, it has 30 contemporary authors, it’s somehow priced at $22.95, and it’s a prismatic reflection of the ‘uncontainable aliveness’ of story-telling on the British Columbia coast.

It’s Islands West: Stories from the Coast (Oolichan $22.95), edited by Keith Harrison, featuring Alice Munro, P.K. Page, Eden Robinson, D.M. Fraser, Audrey Thomas, Linda Svendsen, Cynthia Flood and more than 20 others.

Harrison contends that whether you’re on Mayne Island or the mainland, this misnamed province, our home, and our native land, is a haven for singular viewpoints, styles and disparate backgrounds, and that’s seen in our literature.

“Self-defined and one-of-a-kind, these stories are like islands,” Harrison says. “To end on a fancy metaphor, this book is an archipelago—a sheet of water with many scattered islands—around which I hope readers will voyage with excitement.” 0-88982-198-4

[BCBW WINTER 2001]


Islands West (Oolichan $22.95)
Review



The thrill of discovering D.M. Fraser is only eclipsed by the joy of finding him again, when you have long since given him up for dead. (Don) Fraser was an enigmatic bug of a man who fled to the more tolerant social climes of the West Coast from Nova Scotia after the Summer of Love. A latter-day Lowry figure, he lived gently, drank daily and died avoiding the yuppie melee.

As well, during the Georgia Straight's muddled and literate middle phase, back in the days when Tom Harrison kept the paper going by intelligently covering the music scene, Straight editor Bob Mercer commissioned D.M. Fraser to write a regular-as-he-could-make it column called 'Manners.' This was when Main Street-where Fraser lived-still had stores that sold junk instead of antiques.

'Manners' turned out to be the right title for encapsulating Fraser's witty poignancy. Thanks to Pulp Press, he published two fiction collections in his lifetime, Classs Warfare (1974) and The Voice of Emma Sachs (1983). After Fraser died in 1985, he appeared on the cover of BCBW's second issue. Since then his literary executor, friend and publisher Stephen Osborne has made attempts to revive interest in Fraser, but the collective memory of the little man's slurred speech, suit jackets and heartfelt confessions has faded.

The smart set, and those in danger of learning too much confidence at writing schools, might do well to go slumming in Fraser's sentimental Slough of Respond. They can start with 'Revisionism and Lesser Sorrows' in which a nameless narrator confesses his touching friendship with a charismatic but inarticulate fellow outsider named Dumbo Nelson.

Each sentence is finely wrought and faintly cheeky-as if the brainy refugee from uptight Nova Scotia is getting away with something by confessing the details of a resolutely gentle life. Leaving a party, arm in arm, two comrades depart, "not in the manner of lovers or even drinking buddies, but like near-senile bachelor brothers" holding each other up.

A longing for greater intimacy remains unconsummated, perhaps impossible. Fraser concludes, wistfully, "Meanwhile in the gathering night, I am free to remake history as I see fit."

If there's a stylistic peer or protégé for Fraser it might be Mark Anthony Jarman. In 'Righteous Speedboat' a would-be NHLer watches the pro ~ draft in a 'loser bar,' yearning to be picked, knowing he's ruined his chances by punching out a coach. "Need be I'll go to the moon, I'll skate on Mars." A rich jerk within earshot keeps bragging, to disinterested women and to revolving bartenders, about owning a fishing retreat with a speedboat. Whereas Fraser would be tender, seeking absolution for all, Jarman is critically edged yet the sentence-by-sentence, shorthand leaping logic of the prose is equally exhilarating to interpret and ride. What is a 'scunty-eyed coach?' It doesn't matter. You get it.

Some of the most memorable stories are Zsuzsi Gartner's 'Measuring Death in Column Inches', a memoir-like diary of a neophpyte working nightshift on the rewrite desk of a Vancouver daily, and Madeleine Thien's 'Four Days from Oregon.' No one would blink if the latter had Alice Munro's name on it. An unstable mother of three daughters-nine, seven and six-absconds with her children and her lover to Oregon for a runaway camping trip, only to find lasting happiness, as recalled by the six-year-old, in her own womanhood.

Terence Young's detailed 'Yellow with Black Horns' also imagines a six-year-old daughter trying to oversee her four-year-old brother's birthday party and its much-anticipated pinata-bashing climax, as her parents marriage founders perhaps temporarily, perhaps fatally. The daughter desperately resists change, variations from the family script. This story only lacks a more satisfying ending to merit the word brilliant.

Eden Robinson's 'Traplines' and some of Linda Svendsen's 'Marine Life' are incontestably worthy inclusions. Kevin Roberts' 'Troller' and Maria Hindmarch's 'Ucluelet' are overtly coastal, as is Jack Hodgins' opener 'After the Season,' set in a remote fishing camp during off-season.

A solitary schoolteacher named Hamilton Grey, soured on humanity, takes refuge from a gale, and in doing so he interrupts the annual rite of rutting between a salty wharfinger and the semi-reluctant Prosperina in her 50s who runs the cafe. She and the schoolteacher climb a hill over looking the camp. "As soon as a human being chooses to pay attention to his five senses," he claims, "he's electing to live in hell." Such philosophical dialogue doesn't compensate for a passionless narrative. This is an idea for a story, unfleshed.

Keith Harrison shouldn't be criticized for his ordering of these stories-it's hard enough just to pick 'em-but it's easy to suggest Audrey Thomas' 'The Man with Clam Eyes' would have served as a more appropriate and inspiring opener. Thomas has been our foremost practitioner of the short story within B.C. for decades-and this first person tale about the transformative power of nature best captures the reflective bleating quality of much of this anthology.

"I came to the sea because my heart was broken." It's an irresistible beginning. A forlorn woman on a Gulf Island abandons her sorrow to become a mermaid thanks to the enticements of a Spanish sailor arising from the sea. "My heart darts here and there like a frightened fish." It's confident, moving and surprising. "My breasts bloom in the moonlight."

Evelyn Lau's stunning 'Fresh Girls' is all too believable. It reflects the sense of competition between prostitutes in a modern whorehouse, as tempered by the narrator's oddly clear-eyed despair. "The men can tell the ones who've been here long, they smell like the back room, five ashtrays operating at once and the taste of packaged soup on their tongues." Still in her Lolita years, Lau's narrator grimly contemplates the trick of turning 20.

In contrast, P.K Page's 'A Kind of Fiction' reflects the onset of infirmary after a well-to-do woman suffers an unseen fall. Priding herself on self-containment, she invents a parallel character for herself, an old woman who she continually bumps into. When the pair of elderly women eventually merge, the narrator's self-recognition leads to tears of grief for unresolved family matters. Told in the third person, it's perhaps the most complex story in the anthology, weirdly personal yet removed from self-pity.

Named only Dett and Sheedy, a mathematical employee and an illogical boss in Timothy Taylor's 'Silent Cruise' juggle the risks of stockbroking and horsetrack betting. Wayde Compton's storyless but intriguing 'Diamond' describes the negritudes of a 25-yearold half-white, half-black intellectual's search for identity and belonging in a nightclub where he dances and briefly sheds his conflicts. Compton and Taylor are both bound for literary glory.

Other stories are by Murray Logan, Liza Potvin, Jenny Fjellgaard, Annabel Lyon, Danielle Lagah, Carol Windley, Ron Smith, Stephen Guppy, Shani Mootoo, Caroline Adderson, George Bowering, Cynthia Flood, John Harris and Alice Munro--who concludes the anthology with 'Cortes Island', first published in New Yorker. There are only a couple of clunkers.

Hundreds of other writers could have been included. They should relax, enjoy the tapestry. Writing is not a competition.
0-88982-198-4

[BCBW Spring 2002]


The Origins of Eyemouth
Personal Essay



Where does a book of fiction begin? William Faulkner says a writer has three sources: autobiography, observation, and imagination. If observation includes research, i.e., other people’s observations, then all three sources contributed much to the making of my novel, Eyemouth.

In terms of autobiography, a very important presence in my life was my mother’s mother, Margaret Crombie, who was born in Eyemouth. When I was a little kid in Vancouver, she taught me how to tie my shoelaces as we were sitting on her sunny back steps, and she showed me how to pick crunchy fresh parsley straight from her garden—maybe the first time I ate something that didn’t arrive in a shopping bag. My grandmother also encouraged my love of reading by buying me a subscription to a Roy Rogers cowboy comic and, a bit later, by giving me Hardy Boy detective books as birthday presents. And I became conscious of a large bookcase in her living room near the front window filled with pale green volumes, the Harvard Classics.
But in a way likely typical of families, I didn’t, growing up, know much about granny’s past beyond the bare fact of her Scottish heritage. But one day when I was about eleven, my grandmother’s sister, Agnes (or Nessie as I called her) – who used to knit me heavy grey wool gloves as a Christmas gift, and for whom a character in my novel is named – told me the men in the village went out fishing and never came back and she had sudden tears in her eyes. I was both moved and confused. Everyone here, of course, knows of the Great Fishing Disaster – that Peter Aitchison’s fine history, Children of the Sea, so powerfully conveys – but as a boy on the west coast of Canada I knew nothing of that Black Friday.
Of how in October of 1881, the fishermen who risked their lives for a pittance had been unable to go to sea for several days because the weather was so rough; of how on that fateful Friday morning the ocean was unusually calm but the glass barometer down at the beach had never been so low; of how a few of the younger men set sail in their small open boats and, as by collective tradition, the rest of the fleet followed, out into the North Sea with its rocky coastline; of how the fiercest storm in centuries blew up, toppling oaks hundreds of years old and drowning fully a third of the men of Eyemouth, including my mother’s grandfather, James Crombie, on the Radiant.
In the aftermath of those tremendous losses, Margaret Crombie (according to family lore) was singled out as an exceptional young woman to go to Edinburgh to study to become a teacher, an education enabled by relief funds. However, just before her departure for the big city, my grandmother suffered a mastoid infection, and was strongly advised to remain in Eyemouth to convalesce, but she insisted on going to Edinburgh for the start of university term, feeling obliged by the generous efforts on her behalf. She left her village as her sickness raged on, and Margaret Crombie ended up permanently deaf in one ear.
But in Edinburgh she met James Inglis Reid, a man from Kirkintilloch who became her husband, and the couple immigrated to Canada. There, he ultimately set up on Granville Street in Vancouver a Scottish meat store, which flourished. Its motto was, “We hae meat that ye can eat.” My grandfather was an unusual man who felt everyone who worked in his store should have a share in the profits, that his wife who gave up her teaching career to raise a family should have an independent allowance, and – on this 250th birthday occasion I’d like to note – was instrumental in setting up a statue of Robbie Burns in his adoptive city.
My grandmother encapsulated a lot in a few words, and from her I came to understand something important. One day, speaking clearly and quietly to me, she said: “You can never be satisfied, but you must be content.” I realized, increasingly, that this was not a glib aphorism but a very hard-earned truth. Her son, Knox, nearing graduation from high school, was sailing with friends off Lighthouse Point, at the mouth of Vancouver’s harbour. He was a very skilled sailor but a schoolmate was at the helm, and the wind shifted. The heavy boom swung round, and my grandmother’s only son was knocked overboard, unconscious, and his friends were unable to pull him from the waters of Burrard Inlet. Granny never once spoke to me of that death. Or of her father’s. One a raw, painful echo on another ocean of that first huge loss: both just off-shore from home. What tough-minded coping and what spirited aliveness there was in this remarkable woman! Both her father and son taken by the sea, yet somehow she nurtured with joy two daughters and six grandchildren, myself being one of these lucky ones. I remember granny in her late eighties, reading hardcover books about the crisis in the Middle East and trying out new recipes in her kitchen. In many respects, the inspiration, themes, and characterizations of my novel have come from vivid memories of my grandmother from Eyemouth, a model for art as well as life.

In trying to research Scotland from the remoteness of Canada, McGill University, in Montréal, turned out to be of extraordinary value. Historically, this city, which is now mostly French speaking, was shaped by the economics of fur trading, shipping, banking, and the transcontinental railway that was crucial to Canada’s confederation, and those in the forefront of these activities were often Scottish. The wealth these immigrants generated found expression in McGill’s Library, whose collection of period material from Scotland included diaries, atlases, novels, statistical accounts, biographies, gazetteers, journals, and letters. In the early 1980s, when I started looking for my heritage in Montréal – a city newly self-conscious of its francophone identity – the library’s wonderful Scottish holdings were untouched, apparently of interest to no one. For example, I came across a very valuable first edition of poems by Robbie Burns lying dormant on the open stacks. For about two years, I was able to delight in locating, reading, xeroxing, notating, and mentally inhabiting the life of another country that had been imported onto Canadian shelves by wealthy, homesick Scots who wished their ancestral past to be readily available for perusal and comfort. I feasted on this banquet of texts. If I read through hundreds of pages of some obscure, plodding account of farming methods and gleaned in the end one bright detail, the research felt worthwhile. So, not painfully but with exhilaration, I slowly built up in this composite way a solid sense of a country I had never been to. Finally, I had so much information and language in my head that I became half-sick of all this second-hand knowledge. Somehow, I needed to make it tangible.
At that moment – on my fortieth birthday to be precise – nearly twenty-four years ago, I flew to Scotland in mid-June, and walked for the first time through the buildings and geography through which I hoped the lives of my characters might move. After visiting Edinburgh and Glasgow, I traveled along Scotland’s south-east coast on buses, listening to the voices of my fellow passengers, who were either decades older or younger. I went for a boat ride off St. Abb’s Head to see and hear the sea-birds. Throughout my journey I took half a dozen rolls of film, noting the locale, the time of day, and the direction I was facing. In Eyemouth, I requested my hotel room be one overlooking the sea, and I was awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of children. I looked out the window and, in the extended mid-summer light, saw kids playing down at the beach. I got up and went out for a stroll, thinking this country of Scotland is very far north, and reflecting how prolonged the nighttime must be here in winter, and wondering about the reluctant exchange of light and dark that must be part of the sensibility I have inherited.
Invigorated by my visit of direct observation, I returned to Montréal, and began writing the novel. Fortunately, the personal computer had just come out, as I’m a slow typist. Because the novel opens in the eighteenth century, I felt that the appropriate form to use would be the one developed in that period, a story in the form of letters. Eyemouth would, ultimately, become my third published novel, and I had learned from the first two contemporary works of fiction that I had to keep writing without backtracking and revising what was imperfect or I’d never emerge from the first page. This too-critical awareness of my own writings is probably a consequence of my education that has given me knowledge of most of the great works of world literature, against which my own attempts can appear puny and pointless.
For instance, the novel that I wrote my Ph.D thesis on, Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano, has an extraordinary internal richness of language via the streams of consciousness of a quartet of characters, but it is also locates these lives within the concrete, menacing historical world that the characters inhabit, Mexico during the Spanish Civil War, with World War Two looming. In the structure for Eyemouth, I aspired to a similar balancing of inner and outer, a simultaneous dramatic interplay of subjective and objective realities, which seems to be our human condition.
To explain the conflict between interior and exterior worlds that I hoped would animate and give resonance to my novel, I need to return to Faulkner’s categories of sources for the writer – autobiography, observation, and imagination – and talk briefly about the third term. Perhaps the central imaginative act I made in creating Eyemouth was one of transposition, shifting the time of the novel from the more obvious late Victorian period of the actual Eyemouth fishing catastrophe to the era of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Taking on history at a further historical remove might seem foolish, overly intricate, escapist, or too cute, but I wanted to set out in fiction a key psychological question that held present tense, personal immediacy for me. As a young man deciding not to go to law school at the University of Toronto but to do graduate work in English at the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1960’s – a time of protest against the Vietnam War and the emergence of an alternative culture celebrating equality and love – I felt a kinship to the idealism of the French Revolution.
But after awhile, I sensed how such a naïve dream of a totally transformed world collides with obdurate reality. Bitterness and cynicism were commonplace results that I wished to avoid. What seemed psychologically important to me, then, was a possible third phase, after both ideals and their disillusionment. Eyemouth, I conceived of in the distant mirror of the French Revolution as an imaginative study – mainly through the character of Gavin whose letter begins the book – of the historical persistence of hope and love. Or as my grandmother might phrase it, “You can never be satisfied, but you must be content.”


About two years after I came back from Scotland, I had a complete but essentially unread draft of nearly five hundred pages – about a quarter in length more than the final published version – and I was extremely dissatisfied and discontented. I had taken this weighty bulk of paper down to a beach cabin on the coast of Maine, and read it beside the same Atlantic Ocean that was its primary setting. When I finished reading my work-in-progress, I felt half-suicidal—it was sooo boring! In my historian-like pleasure in unearthing thousands of nuggets of the past, I had created an immaculate corpse. The book was perfectly researched, but it didn’t breathe. I forgot I was writing a novel, so the pacing was all wrong, and I did not have distinct voices of interesting characters telling a collective story with narrative urgency. The epistolary form, ideally, is a reflective, slow-motion drama in which inter-hooked characters express over time incompatible desires, resulting in a plot that compels the reader to turn the pages – not just a bulgy, inert sack of letters.
Fortunately, my typescript did have an unexpectedly lively character, Nessie, who showed up a hundred pages in, and who I could move forward to energize the beginning of this potential book. And I remembered a good piece of advice from a Peruvian journalist friend about motivating the actions of characters via the pressure of events instead of by whims flitting through a character’s head. Also, I could be more rigorous in applying my self-imposed rule – learned from the military tactician who wrote the epistolary novel, Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782) – of having each letter advance the plot instead of just expressing a character’s viewpoint. Most crucially, in taking on again these half a thousand exquisitely dull pages, I had a computer, so I didn’t have to retype everything.
For me, the writing of a novel has affinities with my ancestral traditions of fishing. Repeatedly, you go out into the wet cold dark, float around, steer a little this way, then that, bait the hooks with numb fingers, try not to fall overboard, a big wave washes over you, you try not to lose your footing, feel chilled and taste too much salt in your mouth, but still hope to catch something, or at least make it back to shore safely. Repeatedly, I went through my novel, eight times in total: refining, combining, shifting, omitting, polishing, and re-imagining. In some letters I would only clarify a metaphor, or delete a word.
In 1990, about seven years after I started my research, Eyemouth was published. It received some excellent critical recognition but didn’t sell many copies. Perhaps the most complimentary thing I heard was hidden in a question that assumed this gathering of letters were based on real ones somewhere in a family attic. But, for me, the book’s most significant moment was when I read from this newly-minted novel at the Vancouver launch with my mother, the dedicatee, who was dying from cancer, standing in the audience, looking content.

-- by Keith Harrison, who was invited to Eyemouth to speak, giving rise to this memoir