On the Night Table of Victor Suthren
To burrow down with a good book in the snug shelter of a winter bed for a few minutes is a good way to ensure nodding off without being agitated by the events of the day. That is, unless the book you are reading produces the agitation.
At the moment I’m running the risk of the latter, because I’m reading a “future history” — if there is such a thing — with importance for Canada, Thomas L. Friedman’s The World Is Flat (Douglas & McIntyre, 2007), which essentially says to forget about national independence and get ready for a teeming, worldwide single society dominated by anybody but us.
When I need cooling down from that, I am working through Barry Gough’s excellent work on the early colonial history of the Pacific coast, Fortune’s A River: The Collision of Empires in Northwest America (Harbour Publishing, 2007). Gough is arguably Canada’s finest maritime historian and writes with a novelist’s narrative ease about the history of the majestic evergreen coast, offering both verve and colour.
To add a dash of villainy, I am also dipping in to Harold Horwood and Ed Butts’ tidy little chronicle of unseemly behaviour titled Pirates & Outlaws Of Canada, 1610 to 1932 (Lynx Images, 2003). Their book convinces you in short, pithy stories that the James Gang or Soapy Smith in Skagway, Alaska, had nothing on the nasty characters in Canada’s own history. There’s nothing like a whiff of old-fashioned gunsmoke to send you off happily into the land of Nod.