Cabin Fever: The Best New Canadian Non-Fiction
Reviewed: January 12, 2010
By: edited by Moira Farr and Ian Pearson
Publisher: Thomas Allen Publishers
336 pages, $24.95
I might take exception to the notion that this title could be given to any
book not set in the North except for Marni Jackson’s explanation of how
things work at the Leighton Artist’s Colony in Banff. The 13 writers collected
here have all spent time wrestling with their prose in one of the eight studio
cabins that are the working homes of writers in the Literary Journalism program.
To judge from these contents, the program encourages writers to explore aspects
of their lives and perhaps their obsessions in a very personal way. This the
kind of writing that seems to turn up in magazines like Walrus, Geist, Harpers
and Atlantic, writing that is both informed and personal, sometimes bordering
on the too personal.
For all that, however, it is interesting creative non-fiction with a dash both
reality and invention in the mix. Here, we read of the search for the perfect
absinthe or oysters, driving lessons in Rome, tree planting, attempts to bridge
the gap between generations, siblings and cultures, and explorations in the
worlds of blue frogs and whales.
I won’t pretend that I enjoyed them all equally, but I gave the book an
hour a day for about two weeks and it’s a keeper. I wonder how you get
to stay in one of those cabins.