The Page Boy

Hope in Shadows: Stories and Photographs of Vancouver’s Downtown EastsideBrad Cran and Gillian Jerome
Arsenal Pulp Press/Pivot Legal Society

The Downtown Eastside neighborhood may be impoverished, but it has an ongoing and growing sense of community documented in Hope in Shadow. For the past five years, Pivot Legal Society has sponsored its Hope in Shadows photography contest, providing residents with 200 disposable cameras with which to document their often-difficult lives. Each year, the winning photographs are made into calendars to be sold to raise funds. For this volume, Brad Cran, poet, essayist, and photographer, and Gillian Jerome, poet and instructor at the University of British Columbia, sifted through tens of thousands of archived images, and tracked down the photographers to obtain their stories. The stories are sometimes uplifting, sometimes difficult to bear, but they document a people who have a place in life worth fighting for, and who, despite the efforts of others to “reclaim” their neighborhood, with the assistance of groups like the Pivot Legal Society and their own determination, are finding the means to hold their ground.

Natural Garden Style: Gardening Inspired by Nature
Noël Kingsbury; Photography Nicola Browne

Of course, when deciding one wants a “natural” garden, one first must decide what one means by that protean and rather slippery term, “natural.” As author Kingsbury wisely points out, “No garden is ever really ‘natural.’ Leave a garden to the forces of nature, and the result will nearly always be a tangled mess of vegetation….” As he goes on to remind, much of what we call nature is not natural either, but is the result of “centuries or millennia of human intervention,” i.e., meadows full of wildflowers that are the result of mowing or grazing. That understood, author and photographer take the reader through numerous ways to work with the landscape one has—fertile, barren, rooftop, wooded, shady, sunny, shoreline, or prairie—and how to accommodate your gardening to it. One easily can become lost in the lush photographs, creating one’s very own garden of the mind, while ensconced in your 900-square-foot domain. Check Merrell’s many other fine garden books.

Ready or Not…They’re Gay: Stories from a Midwestern Family
Paul & Hjordy Wagner
Synergy Books

Minnesota born and raised, Paul and Hjordy Wagner met on Valentine’s Day 1970. They went on to have two sons, Brad, in 1971, and Andrew, in 1976. Another memorable date was October 29, 1996, when Brad announced he was gay. The book stems from this announcement, and Andrew’s later revelation that he, too, was gay. In “Memories from Mom” and “Reflections from Dad,” the authors recount their personal feelings and reactions to the boys’ news, while “Brad, Andrew and Grandma Say a Few Words” offers more facets of this family drama. Throughout the book are thoughts and support the Wagners give to other families whose children will have their own “October 29,” and who, even like the authors—down-to-earth, faith-oriented, and loving—still have adjustments to make in their plans and expectations for their children’s lives. Having many voices speak throughout the book, and keeping a nonjudgmental, open, and loving tone, make this lovely family history accessible to all readers.

Sundowner Ubuntu: A Russell Quant Mystery
Anthony Bidulka
Insomniac Press

Can a 20-year-old pain be washed away? Can a terrible wrong be righted, or does vengeance forever rule the human heart? In this fifth book, Quant is hired by a local mom to find her son—a boy she has not seen in two decades, who vanished after a stint in reform school for nearly killing another 16-year-old in a gay bashing. What might be a run-of-the-mill missing-person case leads Quant into a vortex of personal danger, as well as a journey to the veldts and townships of South Africa, pursuing and pursued, even entangled in a near-fling one alcohol-fueled evening with a gorgeous lady wildlife photographer from Atlanta. Bidulka pulls out all the stops to give the reader an exciting ride. Note: In the book, the only murder is instigated by Quant’s own mother. It’s worth the read if you understand and absorb the meaning of “Ubuntu.” Watch for number six, Aloha, Candy Hearts, coming soon.

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