Thursday, December 17, 2015

Reader's Diary #1227- Alison McCreesh: Ramshackle / A Yellowknife Story

After seeing several of Alison McCreesh's collaborations on other people's books, I've been practically salivating for McCreesh (a former art teacher of mine) to publish something completely on her own. Finally, my wish has come true and it was everything I'd hoped it would be and more.

First off, the art is amazing. With pen and watercolours, McCreesh has depicted Yellowknife better than a photo album. She manages to capture the mood of the characters (though a simple cartoon version, it's amazing how well she even captures her own appearance!) and of the town itself through the use of colours (or not), the arrangement of panels, and  splash pages.

She does warn in her foreword, however, that it's not meant to be a portrait of the town but rather a glimpse through her (and her partner's) eyes; their impressions and new understandings as they first moved to Yellowknife back in 2009.

That, it turned out, was important for me to keep in mind. At one point, I felt a little offended. Trying to find a social circle, as well as housesitting their way around the City, she sometimes came across a just a tad snobbish. Or maybe more accurately, reverse-snobbish. Anyone not living in Old Town, especially the shack filled Woodyard, came across as hopelessly uncool. Concerned with mundane, square, and materialistic things.

However, I've quickly come to terms with it. First off, the sting was no doubt in part due to the fact that I don't live in Old Town. But I'll admit it-- Old Town is what gives this place character. Secondly, I suppose we all have some of that judgemental attitude. If I'm being honest, there's a certain section of town (that will remain nameless) that I, too, have judged for their ostentatious houses. But this is also why Ramshackle is so good; it's completely open and honest. More importantly, she's allowed to have a preference in houses and the people she associates with. In fact, it's the ability for her, or me, or others that have come to call this place home, to find kindred spirits from all walks of life in such a small town that makes this place so special.

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