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Family traumas fictionalized in The Pas

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The Pas is suddenly having its moment in the literary sun.

Last fall, fantasy author Chadwick Ginther set much of his Norse-mythology thriller in the northwestern Manitoba town. Then Ontario writer Lauren Carter moved there just prior to launching her novel Swarm.

Now Alberta writer Kim McCullough, who lived in The Pas as a child, uses the area for the setting of her debut novel, Clearwater, published by Saskatchewan's Coteau Press. The novel is the story of two friends working through family traumas during their youth in The Pas and later in their adult lives.

"I always felt the area was so beautiful, but with this strange, dark undercurrent of sadness," she says, referring to some of the dark chapters in the town's past.

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Who knew that underneath Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke, David Bowie had yet another persona?

Bookworm.

Geoffrey Marsh, curator of an exhibit on Bowie created by the Victoria and Albert Museum and touring to Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario, talks of Bowie's voracious reading habits in an interview with the Canadian book trade magazine Quill & Quire.

When he was young, Bowie, who left school at age 16, took to carrying copies of books by French existentialists in order to look cool, Marsh says. But then he started to read them and became hooked.

Marsh has assembled a list of 100 of Bowie's favourite books, covering a wide range of major 20th-century writers as well as topics associated with the art-rocker's career.

-- -- --

Winnipeggers have been known to grumble about our city's crime rate, transit system or urban planning. But they tend to get upset when that kind of commentary comes from outside the province.

So it's a good thing British journalists Sam Jordison and Dan Kieran have yet to produce a Commonwealth edition of their semi-satirical series Crap Towns, started in 2003 to shine a spotlight on urban-planning and architectural failures in Great Britain.

The duo collect nominations -- many coming from residents of the "crap towns" under discussion -- for inclusion in their books and on their website.

In the latest volume, Crap Towns Returns, to be published this month, the authors promise to focus on good-news stories about towns that are now, as the British might put it, "a little less crap."

-- -- --

Thin Air was last month, but one week in October is stacked with heavy hitters of Canadian literature.

Giller, G.G. and Booker winner and Twitter celebrity Margaret Atwood will read from and sign copies of new dystopian novel MaddAddam Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. at McNally Robinson.

Two days later, Giller Prize winner Joseph Boyden will read from his new novel, The Orenda, which provides multiple perspectives on a famous and horrific encounter between Jesuit missionaries to the Huron and their Iroquois foes. The Boyden event, which also includes Winnipeg poet Katherena Vermette (North End Love Songs) takes place at the Franco-Manitoban Cultural Centre and has a $20 admission fee.

Big names in two other genres also visit McNally Robinson this month. Graphic novelist Chester Brown will sign copies of a 10th annual edition of his hit Louis Riel: A Comic Strip Biography on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. and bestselling popular historian Ken McGoogan reads from his new book, 50 Canadians Who Changed the World, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.

booknewsbob@gmail.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 A1

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