Vancouver Book Club Holiday Lit List: 111 West Coast Literary Portraits

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Wherein we look at some of the local books that have been published this year and give you some ideas of what to get your book-loving friends and family for Hanukkah, Solstice, Festivus, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or just because it’s a day ending with “y”.

Don’t forget to support your local independent bookstores!

111 West Coast Literary Portraits
Photographs by Barry Peterson and Blaise Enright
Text by BC Authors
Introduction by Alan Twigg
Mother Tongue Publishing 2012

Fourteen years in the making, this beautiful book of photographs by Barry Peterson and Blaise Enright celebrates 115 emerging, mid-career and well-known BC writers. Taken in their subjects’ personal spaces, these intimate portraits showcase the range and diversity of the talented writers who call British Columbia home. In his introduction, Alan Twigg comments that this “representative panorama – reflects and celebrates a golden era of literary expansion and cultural expression prior to the invasion of big-box stores, the ballyhooed onset of ebooks and the necessity of authors to turn themselves into self-reverential bloggers.”

The photographs were shot on film, using a Hasselblad, and the film was then hand processed before Peterson printed the selected images himself on archival fibre-based paper. This slow, careful process mirrors that of the writers themselves, crafting their words in a way that often defies haste.

We usually know writers first through their words, and in this book a selection of writing accompanies each portrait. Whether a full poem or a brief passage from a novel or essay, or simply thoughts of the moment, the writing gives a glimpse into the talent of each writer and hopefully inspires you to read more.

It’s difficult to say whether or not I have one favourite over all the other 110, but there are a few portraits that standout for me: the low-angle shot of Wayde Compton under the neon of the Commodore Ballroom; the toothy grin of a skull mirroring the radiant smile of M.A.C. Farrant; Peter C. Newman and a staircase full of penguins; the mischievous smile of George Bowering.

If you have anyone on your list who is a writer, a reader who loves writers, or who has an interest in BC culture, this will make an wonderful gift.

Photograph by Barry Peterson and Blaise EnrightThe prolific George Bowering, who is celebrating his birthday today with the launch of 2 books at People’s Co-op Bookstore. Photograph by Barry Peterson and Blaise Enright.