Briefly Noted

New Alberta Books

By albertaviews

Protest and Democracy (edited by Moisés Arce and Roberta Rice, University of Calgary Press, 2019). From the Arab Spring to the Occupy Wall Street movement, mass protests shook countries around the world in 2011, with precariously employed citizens calling for “more responsive and accountable democracy.” Editors Arce and Rice—the latter an associate professor at the University of Calgary—contend that “the global protest cycle of 2011” may be a “harbinger of things to come.” New movements (such as Greta Thunberg-inspired climate strikes) are emerging. But, the editors caution in this incisive critical analysis, “conservative populism” shows that “not all movements are progressive.”


The Law is Not for Kids: A Legal Rights Guide for Canadian Children and Teens (by Ned Lecic and Marvin Zuker, Athabasca University Press, 2019). Written for youth and children, this practical guide to the legal rights of minors aims to be “a trustworthy source of information” on everything from children’s rights if parents divorce, to what to do if you (a minor) feel treated unfairly at school, work or elsewhere, to what can happen and what to do if you’re arrested. Clearly written, with fascinating sidebar stories, this is an essential book for young citizens.


River of Dreams: A Journey through Milk River Country (by Liz Bryan, Heritage House, 2019). Part travelogue, part meditation, part history and guide book, Liz Bryan’s compelling evocation of the Milk River basin is a journey to, and with, “a small and dreamy river… through some of the loneliest lands of North America: the dry plains of southern Alberta and northern Montana.” A journalist and photographer, Bryan includes many often-gorgeous photos, but it’s her attunement to both the promise and the pain people find here that elevates this book. “Does the land itself keep guard on all this emotion, all the memories, good and bad?” she asks. “I think it does.”


Perimeter’s Ridge: Marks, Musings and Machinations of F. Spina (by Ferdinando Spina, Bayeux Arts, 2019). “My art does not portray subjects at their prettiest…. I like to think they are more authentic, more honest,” writes Spina, a Calgary-based artist who works as a mental health consultant in Nunavut and has travelled widely in Europe, Asia and South America. This book of colourful, at times disturbing paintings (often of Arctic themes), interspersed with poems, reveals multiple influences—from Mexican muralists to Inuit carvers to Marc Chagall—in images often more akin to dreams than literal depiction.


Boom Time, Tar Swan and Prologue for the Age of Consequence

  Garth Martens’s debut performance, in his 2014 book Prologue for the Age of Consequence, set a poetic template, hammered together with a framer’s hammer and a carpenter’s level, for writing about construction work in general and the Alberta “tar sands” in particular. In the poem “Leathering,” he writes: He forgets his reasons ...

Rain Comin’ Down: Water, Memory and Identity in a Changed World

Since the “dark satanic mills” William Blake observed in 1808, writers have warned about the environmental consequences of industrialization. A lot of good those warnings did: Today a fast-warming world is upon us, and even if we ended global carbon pollution tomorrow, sea levels would still rise. What becomes of ...

Doing Politics Differently?

In Doing Politics Differently? Sylvia Bashevkin offers readers a thoughtfully curated collection focused on Canada’s first 11 women premiers. Presenting the first systematic assessment of Canadian female political executives, the book traces their impacts on equality and diversity in our political landscape. It’s a compelling examination. Addressing the scarcity of research ...