Wednesday, March 02, 2011

circling the edge of the neverending

Adventures in Solitude: what not to wear to a 
nude potluck and other stories from Desolation Sound
- Grant Lawrence

I was in my kitchen when I first heard Grant Lawrence read a snippet from Adventures in Solitude. His recounting of the scenario in which he - bearded, shirtless, bleeding, and carrying a large machete - tried to convince a pair of terrified kayakers that he was a CBC Radio host made me snort so hard that the Slightly Retarded Kitty skittered away from her food bowl and hid in the basement.

I knew I had to read this book.

As luck would have it, Grant Lawrence did a reading recently at Page's Books in Kensington. The memories of that winter evening, a cozy gathering of words and music and laughter punctuated by twinkle lights in the trees outside the second story window, may have coloured my reception of Adventures in Solitude somewhat, but you needn't have been there to absolutely love the book.

One of the first things that endeared me to the book (aside from the stories I had already heard) was flipping it open to find that the chapter titles were taken from song or album names. The book title itself, of course, is the name of one of my favourite New Pornographers songs. It's comforting to know that other people rip off song titles as well, although I am sure that Mr. Lawrence would agree with me that this habit is more a tribute to the music we love than it is thievery.

Adventures in Solitude is a highly engaging, often hilarious, surprisingly informative tribute to an area of the wild BC coast to which the Lawrence family retreated (at least one of them under extreme protest) each summer. Written in a charmingly self-deprecating manner, it chronicles Grant Lawrence's ties to this hippie enclave, his rejection of it during his extended teenagehood, and his rediscovery as an adult. Blended with tales of the bespectacled, knee-braced youngster are stories of the colourful characters who escaped to the wilderness of Desolation Sound, and historical tales of some of the adventurers who tried to scrabble a living out of the challenging coastline.

Whether you are looking for humour, tales of adventure, or stories of refugees from polite society, you will find it all in Adventures in Solitude. There are even pictures.

Definitely recommended.


Allison said...

This has been on my must read list for a while now. I really need to make a trip to the bookstore this weekend. Glad to know it's worth the read!

John Mutford said...

Sounds like a fun read.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You could swing by the RO's rez instead, if you like,Al. She has my copy and I don't believe she's started reading it yet, so you can read it first if you like.

More fun than an evening with the Mutfords, John! Okay, perhaps not, but close.

Anonymous said...

Having travelled around Desolation Sound a bit. (A very little bit) I'm looking forward to reading that book. It's surprising how many people you encounter there. I regularly attend a BBQ on Stuart Island in Desolation Sound. Usually about 250 people there. Michelle Pfeiffer has a property there and she donates to the auction. I don't think she has ever come to the BBQ though.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

She probably got stuck waiting for the ferry, Kelly. One of the things that struck me in the book was how much difficult it actually is to get to Desolation Sound, what with twisting roads and multiple ferry crossings. It's a wonder you people in BC ever get anywhere!

Anonymous said...

I guess it might be difficult to get to it from the mainland but if you have a boat and live here on the island..easy! The narrow passages and crazy tidal currents and whirlpools make for interesting boating there. A friend has an amazing cabin he built by himself on Sonora Island there. On a cliff overlooking a bay. I know where the key is.

John Mutford said...

Now don't put too much pressure on me. I tend to break out the bagpipes whenever people expect me to perform.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

What time do you want to meet us at your friend's cabin, Kelly?

Big bagpipe fan here, John! This is going to be great!

Anonymous said...

with aword verification like this I had to comment; phippy

You'll need a boat and a chart or GPS to get there....the water taxi goes up that way as well, much easier, only about 50 minutes out of Campbell River

Barbara Bruederlin said...

See, I couldn't handle that, Kelly. That's one of the reasons I could never live on an island. Or in the mountains. You can't leave quickly if you need to.