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.


The Broken Places

Frances Peck’s debut novel, The Broken Places, about a fictional Vancouver earthquake and the lives it disrupts, takes a hatchet to the trope that those who can’t do, teach. As a writing workshop and university instructor, ghostwriter and editor, Peck spent years teaching the finer points of language and writing ...


One of the many Canadian communities hit hard by the ongoing fentanyl debacle is Standoff, Alberta, headquarters of the Kainai (Blood) First Nation, where a state of emergency was declared in 2015 to try and get control of the crisis. It is sadly ironic that Standoff should make the news ...

The Company: The Rise and Fall of the Hudson’s Bay Empire

During the 19th century, its own employees often joked that the Hudson’s Bay Company’s initials (HBC) stood for “Here Before Christ.” For many Canadians, there has always been a Hudson’s Bay Company. Canadians have grown accustomed to shopping at “The Bay,” and have associated some of its premier brands such ...