Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bannock, Beans and Black Tea - John Gallant

this is john gallant's memoir of his childhood growing up in depression era prince edward island. john gallant is the father of seth who just happens to be a famous canadian comics auteur whose work is largely published through the montreal publishing house, drawn and quarterly. seth, remembering his father's stories encouraged john gallant to record these stories in the form of letters written to his son. seth would then compile them into a book and provide the book's illustrations. the end result is, as one comes to expect from seth, exquisite. the fabric jacket with woodcut-esque illustrations, and thick, almost card stock pages with a handwritten font and black ink illustrations, really make this something special to pick up and look at. gallant's depiction of his childhood on prince edward island is as far removed from the prince edward island of anne of green gables as it is possible to get. this is not an island of picturesque farm houses and sunday teas, but rather of dilapidated shacks and almost constant starvation. think of the stories told by grandparents everywhere about how they had to walk uphill both ways to schools and make those stories worse, and you have gallant's childhood. what keeps this from being depressing though is gallant's sense of humour and his ability to look back and see lessons in his past. for anybody who enjoys their canadiana, and even for those who don't (and i assure you, i typically fall in the latter category) this is a great book.

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