Gail Anderson-Dargatz: Contribution as Canadian Novelist

Also Read

      Gail Anderson-Dargatz, Canadian short story writer and novelist, born in 1963, who grew up on a farm in central British Columbia. She worked as a reporter for the local newspaper, then studied Creative Writing at the University of Victoria where she was instructed by the Canadian novelist Jack Hodgins. The short fiction collected in The Miss Hereford Stories (1994) barely hints at the suspense contained in the novel The Cure for Death by Lightning (1996), a supernatural story set in central British Columbia in 1941. Its 15-year-old heroine, Beth Weeks, comes of age into a rural culture contested by two spiritual spheres: the stifling Protestant mores that dominate the local town and the First Nations cosmology evident on the nearby reserve. The native elder and storyteller Bertha Moses provide an empowering model for Beth by lending a decidedly feminist interpretation to the stalking of the community by Coyote, the native trickster figure. Beth's awakening takes place against the backdrop of World War II, making.

      The Cure for Death by Lightning a story about women resisting the intertwined patriarchal projects of war and colonization. The narrative is haunted by the specter of incest, with the father's actions synecdochic for the abuses of patriarchy. Magic realist influences of Hodgins, Isabelle Allende, and especially Laura Esquivel are prominent. The novel has been translated into several languages and has become an international bestseller. Anderson Dargatz's next novel, A Recipe for Bees (1998), tells of a day in the life of its aged protagonist, Augusta, who lives with her husband Karl in an apartment on Vancouver Island, Augusta makes sense of their long marriage by narratively revisiting its 1940s beginning on an isolated sheep ranch in the interior of British Columbia, her need for companionship beyond the marriage, her affair with another man in the nearby town, and the ensuing decades during which she and Karl raised the daughter fathered by the lover. In the 1960s Augusta had come to terms with herself, her husband and her difficult daughter by taking up beekeeping, just as her mother had done a generation earlier. By the end of the current recounting of her life's story Augusta is able to forgive Karl her inadequacies, just as he had forgiven hers so many times in the past'. While there is no suggestion that Augusta's death is imminent, by telling the story she has put her affairs in order. After several years dairy farming near Parksville on Vancouver Island, in 1997 Anderson Dargatz and husband Floyd bought a 160-acre farm near Millet, Alberta, with the proceeds from The Cure for Death by Lightning.

Previous Post Next Post