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Going Some Place: Creative Non-fiction Across Canada

by Lynne Van Luven,ed.

In her introduction to Going Some Place, editor Lynne Van Luven acknowledges that creative non-fiction is a “hybrid genre,” difficult to clearly define and often seen as fancy travel reportage or postmodern personal essay writing. Her elegant defence of the form is actually one of the best pieces in the book. But while the anthology contains many worthy and fascinating examples of this genre, the book’s mandate occasionally feels too broad, like a magazine aimed at hikers who also enjoy quilting and computer games.

The book is divided into three segments, in which, the editor explains, “articles loosely similar in theme and mood are grouped in a genial synergy.” The first section, “A Honeycomb of Memory,” deals with the past and “journeying”; the second, “A Question of Identity,” includes explorations of cultural identification; and the third, “Breathing Spaces,” brings together selections loosely related to life and death.

There are some brilliant pieces in the book. Kristjana Gunnars’ “pensive nude” is a ramble about nature and art that takes the reader from a B.C. rainstorm through Paul Auster and Woody Allen, God and literature, and back again. Poet Barry McKinnon’s “Wrestling the Alligator” is a sly, Brysonesque take on time spent in a wilderness fishing camp – if Bryson had a Canadian’s environmental conscience. And Regina writer Pat Krause’s meditation on widowhood, “Acts of Love,” is a moving eulogy to lost love. But though most of the pieces in the anthology are worthy enough to stand alone, they don’t necessarily belong together in a single anthology.