Angie Abdou, Brindle & Glass Publishing, 2011, 277 pages.
The Canterbury Trail takes place on the ski mountain at Coalton, BC, where there is one last snowfall at the end of the ski season. Many of the locals decide to go up the mountain and stay at Camelot, a shack of a ski cabin, for the weekend. Redneck snowmobilers, stoned ski bums, hippies, an urbanite, a real estate developer, and several dogs are among the occupants packed into the cabin.
I had the pleasure of hearing Angie Abdou speak recently at the recent Shuswap Writers' Festival (you can read my thoughts on the festival here). She spoke about this book and how she wanted to cram the cabin full of stereotypical characters (and their dogs) and have them burst out, in a way similar to The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. This is exactly what happens - a large number of characters are brought together who would not normally mix in order to see what happens. The mountain itself plays a huge role in the story and is like another character.
At first when I started to read this book, I thought that the number of characters was overwhelming and that I would have trouble keeping track of them. Remarkably enough, this was not a problem, perhaps because they were largely stereotypes and each had very strong voices. I really enjoyed how the characters developed and we got to see beyond some of the stereotypes. Many of them showed growth in their own way. It was also fun to watch them mix as the characters stereotype each other as well.
The story is very well told, with very rich and tight prose and description. I felt like I could vividly picture the ski mountain, the cabin, and the characters.
Just as a note, this book contains a huge amount of swearing, drug use and drinking. I am sure this was done to further the stereotypes, but it is on nearly every page.
I really enjoyed reading this book, anxious to see what stirring the pot (no pun intended) would come up with next. It is the kind of book where I do not want to say too much so as not to give away any of the plot, but it is also the kind of book I would love to discuss with someone else who has read it.
I am always interested in reading books by Canadian authors, does anyone have a favourite?