Thursday, September 29, 2022

Reader's Diary #2046 - Patti-Kay Hamilton: Trapline to Deadline

Trapline to Deadline
 is a brief memoir, a collection of vignettes really, by Patti-Kay Hamilton who recounts her time transitioning from trapper to CBC Radio reporter in the early 80s. 

One of the most memorable moments is when she recalls advice given to her by a former CBC manager, Bob Rhodes, who advised to imagine just speaking to one listener. It served her well over her years on the air, and I'd argue in her writing as well. 

These stories feel personal and the history she shares comes alive. Her voice is very warm, easy going, and magnetic. In one or two with more serious subject matter, I found it just a tad too light of a tone, but otherwise I was totally engaged with her recollections.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Reader's Diary #2045 - Ashlyn McKayla Ohm: After the Storm

 I don't, as a general rule, read Christian fiction (nor identify as Christian), but stumbled upon Ashlyn McKayla Ohm's Christian short story "After the Storm" and decided to give it a shot anyway. 

Religion aside, it's very well told story, with a great voice and strong imagery. I saw the ending coming from a mile away, but I still enjoyed the tale overall. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Reader's Diary #2044 - Various writers and artists: DC Pride 2021

Though I'm much more a fan of Marvel than DC Comics, where it comes to LGBTQ characters, I think most people acknowledge that DC Comics has historically done a better job. They tend to have more LGBT characters and started earlier. Still, they're far from perfect either. Many previous earlier examples exist where such characters were not shown positively and/or as crude stereotypes. In the Batman comics, it seems like every female character is bisexual or lesbian, but sometimes those examples seemed to have been primarily drawn and written for heterosexual men with lesbian fetishes. Still, as the world progresses slowly, so do the comics and this collection certainly celebrates and highlights that.

Unlike the similar Pride anthology by Marvel, the stories in this one feel less didactic and I so I prefer it. The stories were more engaging and told actual stories in which the characters by and large just happened to be queer, though admittedly everything is pretty low stakes. I liked hearing of some characters I hadn't heard of before, like Lobo's daughter Crush and Jess Chambers, a female Flash (I've often wondered why all the speedsters in comics seemed to be male) but I also was glad to see more recognizable names that are out: Batwoman, Harley Quinn, and Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern. Notably though, bisexual Wonder Woman was missing for some reason.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Reader's Diary #2043 - Eric Heidle: At Jackson Creek

 I love the word choice and scene painting in Eric Heidle's "At Jackson Creek." I didn't get all of it, but it's clear it's a world the author knows well and it felt authentic.

It also oozed mood, with melancholy and eventually a hint of danger. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Reader's Diary #2042- Chris Schweizer (writer), Joe Flood (illustrator): Pirates of the Caribbean Beyond Port Royal

One of the more fun details Watchmen was that in a world of superheroes, the most popular comic books were actually about pirates. I get the appeal of pirates and so a comic based on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise seemed like a sure fire win.

I don't know that this one was groundbreaking or found a huge fan base, but it was fun enough.

I feel they captured the energy, humour, and essence of those tales and of Jack Sparrow. Sometimes that worked slightly against the comic as Sparrow can be a bit wordy and an overly talky panel throws off the balance. But only slightly.

Joe Flood's art complements the story well with loose linework and expressive characters.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Reader's Diary #2041 - Franz Kafka: Give It Up

 Franz Kafka's flash fiction "Give It Up" is an off-putting little story. It deals with a weird response to a simple question, but even more bizarre considering as it comes from someone in authority.

Still, Kafka has managed to establish a believable, otherwise mundane scene in a very short space.

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Reader's Diary #2040 - Natalie Meisner: Legislating Love The Everett Klippert Story

For those not in the know, Everett Klippert, the subject of Natalie Meisner's play Legislating Love was the last person in Canada charged for "gross indecency" after confessing to consensual homosexual relations in Pine Point, Northwest Territories. His conviction made national headlines, prompted then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to state that "there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation" and led to homosexual acts between consenting adults finally being decriminalized. Unfortunately, however, Klippert still spent another two years in prison. 

As a bit of an aside, the summary on the back of the book refers to Klippert as "the last Canadian man jailed for simply being gay." When Klippert died, it should be noted, he was married to a woman. Could it have been a marriage of convenience? Absolutely. But while Klippert tended to avoid the spotlight and causes, he was also pretty honest about his same sex attraction, so he had to realize that his marriage to a woman didn't make people forget that. As I'm rather sensitive to bi-erasure, I'd like to throw out the possibility that he wasn't gay but bisexual. 

Nevertheless, I loved Meisner's play. Despite it being largely set in Calgary, I hope to see it performed in the NWT someday, given the importance of the subject matter and the connection to the territory. If it's ever done in Yellowknife, you can bet I'd be auditioning for the character named simply Handsome. He's full of life, poignant, and to me, the heart of the story. He's also hilarious as hell.

I wasn't sure at first about the frame story. Basically a university student named Maxine is researching Klippert's life; which sounds kind of weak as a premise. However, as the play dives into her life (she is a lesbian and dating a Metis woman named Tonya), we see the impact of Klippert and Handsome on her own perspective and the play becomes so much richer. Also, and perhaps the most fascinating aspect, Klippert is on stage throughout as a bit of a flashback scene, though he sometimes may react subtly to the present day happenings, providing powerful themes about history itself and how the present day works almost retroactively to affect the past.

Monday, September 05, 2022

Reader's Diary #2039 - Andrea Barton: His Frosty Companion

In her short story, "His Frosty Companion," Andrea Barton does an excellent job of capturing the beauty of the northern lights as well as instilling a creepy tone in a story that owes a lot of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart."

One small critique is that it's clearly set in winter and yet the birch trees are described as still having their leaves.