My new book, a novella, is due out later this month. The Weight of the Heart, published by Palimpsest Press, is at the printer as I write. This is always an exciting moment for a writer and even though this is my 14th title, I am looking forward to holding the actual book in my hand. In a pandemic, there’s not the usual opportunity to launch the book with an actual party, reading from it, meeting and hugging the well-wishers who always come out to help celebrate the book. I know people are doing this virtually and if there’s a chance to do that, I will too. But I am not a techie and can’t imagine zooming or however this is done.
So yes, it’s at the printer as I write. And here, at High Ground, where we have our own printing presses, it’s been a tradition to print a small keepsake to hand out at readings and to mail to far-flung friends who I know are there in spirit if not in person. John is out in our printshop now, putting the keepsake through the press a second time for the second colour, a beautiful blue. I went out to see how it was going and found him locking up the text:
The press is already inked and ready to go.
Here’s the proof:
This is something you could tuck into your copy, use as a bookmark, put by your desk. For those of you who buy a copy of The Weight of the Heart, I’ll happily mail you a keepsake, as long as I have them to share (their numbers are limited because of the nature of letterpress printing…). I urge you to support your local bookseller if possible. Ours, Bev Shaw of Talewind Books in Sechelt, will have copies, as will many book stores in Canada. You can order from the publisher too.
This is a book about rivers and canyons and dry Interior space in British Columbia. Its muses are Ethel Wilson and Sheila Watson. Its protagonist is young and troubled but she is also bold. She sees the landscape as a series of texts and she hears the voices of cranes, water systems, coyotes singing their hearts out. Here’s a passage as a virtual keepsake:
I have a section planned that will outline their expectations. Sheila’s on the train. Ethel’s in the car as she and Wallace drove to Lac Le Jeune for a week’s fishing. The bull pine imprinted on Ethel’s memory. The sound of ducks in the early morning. Sheila watches the river, the one she has known in New Westminster, its broad body of water surging towards its estuary. Through tunnels, along the narrow ridges, her head against the window, hearing the rhythm of the rail joints, the friction as the train followed the curve of the hills approaching Ashcroft, and the unknown. In the warmth of the car near Savona, Ethel is murmuring to her husband, wondering would they use a sedge pattern, a leech, in the weed patches fringing the lake they were heading to? He pats her knee, anticipating the days in the clinkerbuilt boat waiting for them, the drinks on the verandah of their cabin at dusk, the sound of cranes across the heavens. She doesn’t know she is thinking ahead, in her body, in the memory her muscles will hold of the rod, the line skittering on the calm water, until it becomes the story I am following.