For all you Canadian and prairie fiction aficionados who happen to read this blog, my wondrous and brilliant marvel of a friend has just published her first novel. The Anatomy of Edouard Beaupré is historical fiction centred on a Montreal doctor exploring the corpse of Saskatchewan's very real Willow Bunch Giant. From the publisher's (Coteau) description:
A Montreal doctor investigates the cadaver of the famous Willow Bunch Giant, trying to solve the mystery of why the preserved body is shrinking. His own physical limitations add an urgency to his research, as his body too is failing; a rare condition means it is gradually absorbing its own bones.And from a review in Quill & Quire:
The giant’s body has been ravaged not only by the treatment it received immediately after Edouard’s death — being paraded in shop windows and in freak shows — but also by the attentions of a professor who in 1907 bought the body for his experiments and classes.
But the strictly clinical and physical isn’t enough, and the anatomist begins to reveal the story of the man through a series of events selected from his short life...
Despite this cruelty and tragedy, York manages to convey more magic and wonder than sadness, using biographical and historical research to recreate the lives of marginalized people like ranch hands, retired fighters, and circus freaks. She portrays Edouard as gentle, shy, handsome, and multilingual, and more intelligent than contemporary journalists gave him credit for being.What is the relationship between the body and the life lived? And why are we simultaneously attracted to and repulsed by people who are exceptionally different from us? York raises these questions while encouraging the reader to imagine Edouard’s story from his own unique perspective. No small feat.
(I'll withhold my own review for reasons of bias.)
If this is your sort of thing, you'll be delighted to know Sarah will be reading from 'Edouard' in early May on a cross country tour with several other "Fictionistas":
TORONTO - May 3, Ben MacNally Books at 7pm (host: Heather Birrell)
WINNIPEG - May 5, NcNally Robsinson Booksellers - Grant Park at 2 pm (host: Charlene Diehl of THIN AIR)
CALGARY - May 6, Pages on Kensington at 11 am (host: Angie Abdou) * this event is a panel discussion!
EDMONTON- May 7, Audrey's Books at 7 pm (host: Janice MacDonald)
VANCOUVER - May 8, Vancouver Public Library at 7:30 pm.