#1 – Yellowknife, by Steve Zipp

If you’ve been reading this site for the last month, you’ll know that I’ve joined The Canadian Book Challenge, a contest wherein participants are asked to read thirteen books by Canadian authors between October 4th 2007 and the first of July 2008. Author Steve Zipp was kind enough to send me a copy of his recent novel Yellowknife to use as one of my thirteen selections. I tell you this only in the interest of full disclosure, although regular readers will know that I would never let such a thing colour my opinion of a book one way or another.

The book itself, the physical artifact, is quite handsome and feels good in the hands. The paper is of exceptional quality, and the matte cover rather refreshing. It’s published by Res Telluris, a house with which I was previously unfamiliar, but as Yellowknife is such a fine specimen, it seems to me they know what they are doing.

To summarize or “blurb” the book would be quite difficult, and even the publisher gave up, opting instead to populate the back cover with a description of the setting, a short quotation, and a string of nouns that can all be found within. I quite like it when books resist such easy pigeon-holing. Zipp’s novel is a web of narratives that all connect obliquely with one another, some of them winding up neatly, others trailing off, some still beginning at the end of the book. The result is not so much a traditional A to Z story (although it reads like one, most of the time), but instead more an elaborately textured rendering of a place. What Yellowknife presents is how truly different the North is from the rest of Canada (I’m a Northerner myself, although not from quite that far up, and I see echoes of Yellowknife in my own home town). It’s a place of mysticism and wildness, quirky locals and international politics. It is big and small at the same time. The world changes there, and consequences are amplified.

If I were forced to say “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” about this book, it would be an unequivocal “thumbs up”. The opening few chapters are stiff, at times, but Zipp quickly hits his stride and sucks his reader in, adding threads to his tale that seem more believable the wilder they become. I’m not sure how widely available this novel is, but if your local book store doesn’t carry it, you should convince them to. I’m sure you can also order it directly from Res Telluris, but if worse comes to worst, I’m sure Steve would be able to help you out and find a copy for you to buy. Which you should do. I’m quite pleased that I was able to start my year in reading with such a fine volume. I’ll be on the lookout for his next effort.

Yellowknife was my fourth book as part of The Canadian Book Challenge. Next up is Nicholas Maes’ Dead Man’s Float.


Writer. Editor. Critic.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.