Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fiction: The Canterbury Trail by Angie Abdou

An unlikely group is pushed together, Big Chillish-style, for a close encounter of the awkward kind. Though rather than a country house and a friend’s funeral, in Angie Abdou’s The Canterbury Trail (Brindle & Glass) an unlikely group is put together by a mountain adventure.

Angie Abdou’s star has risen meteorically of late, given a push when former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque championed Abdou’s debut novel, 2007’s The Bone Cage, in the Canada Reads competition. (The Bone Cage didn’t win. That honor went to Terry Fallis’ The Best Laid Plans.) But, along the way, Canadian Literature included the book in their All-Time Top Ten List of Best Canadian Sports Literature and it was number one on the CBC Book Club’s Top Ten Sports Books.

It’s clear that Abdou gets the sports world and knows it well enough to write intimately from it and, from certain angles, The Canterbury Trail could be viewed as sports related: but only from an oblique angle. The focus here is not on competition, but on human emotion and relations. (Though it’s possible those things aren’t so very different.)

“I didn't set out to write an adventure book or a ski book,” Abdou told The Calgary Herald in a recent interview. “I’m interested in people’s connection to place and how the people define the place and place defines the people. So I wanted to look at this community through various eyes over the period of 24 hours or so. They are active people who live in the backcountry and that’s just what people where I live do.” ◊

Sienna Powers is a transplanted Calgarian who lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. She is a writer and conceptual artist.

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