September 1, 2008

Yellowknife: A Review

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Last Canadian Book Challenge Steve Zipp sent me a copy of his book Yellowknife. I never did get around to reading it then but made sure I would for the second Canadian Book Challenge. I'm glad I did.

Yellowknife follows the lives of a collection of quirky characters who find themselves in Yellowknife, NWT at the end of the last century. There are drifters, scientists, politicians, con men, natives, and a bunch of others. There is no central character but all of their stories become entangled throughout the novel. Yellowknife itself is a character, always dangling a golden carrot just out of all their reaches.

I just loved this book. The writing was more than I expected. Smooth and lyrical with great humour. The characters were well developed. I got attached to them as soon as they arrived on the page. In fact, I wondered what happens to each of them after the book ends. Ever read a book like that?

I've never been to the North. It really does seem like a mysterious place to me. Zipp painted a picture of a place of gritty industrialism and endless wilderness. I felt like I was there. So many bizarre incidents happen in the novel. (My favorites were the snowmobile stealing dog and the hockey rink in Russia). But they all fit in well and keep a nice pace. I also enjoyed the sprinkling of magical realism. There is a fine line between myth and reality in Yellowknife.

I highly recommend Yellowknife, whether you're Canadian or not.


  1. Once I realized there wasn't a linear plot, I let go and quite enjoyed it. A most unusual book that I never would have read if Zipp hadn't offered.

  2. Oh..I have this book too! I really need to read it. Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. This sounds like a really good book. We love Northern Exposure in our house, and while NE was set in Alaska, not Canada, I think the sensibility is quite similar. Yet another book to add to my ever-growing, never-ending TBR list...

  4. The longer I live in the North, I still don't get any closer to understanding it. That said, the south has now become just as mysterious. Living on the East coast for most of my life, then skipping along various communities in Canada's attic, I think I'm out of touch with the majority of Canadians. But that's not a complaint. And I hope that doesn't come across as a superiority complex, it's just that the more I'm here, the more it feels like me-- and finally, I think I've found the right community in Yellowknife. (There, how'd I go and make your post about me? I'm so self-centred, eh?)

  5. Wonderful review Christina! I just added it to my TBR.

  6. I'm a Buckeye in BC (where they call buckeyes horse chestnuts), and I think I'll be putting this on my list of books to check the library for. Thanks for the push!

  7. Who is the author of Yellowknife, please?

  8. Raidergirl- Yeah, I had to figure that out too.

    Stephanie- Glad you have it!

    Carrie- It has that kind of feel to it.

    John- Whose blog is this again? j/k Glad you feel at home there.

    Teddy- Yes, add it.

    Jena- Steve Zipp. Thanks for the visit!

  9. This sounds really interesting. I need to do a bit more a Canadian reading myself (Why did I join the Canadian Challenge?). This one sounds like a good place to start. Another one for the TBR/wishlist...

  10. The sprinkling of magical realism sealed the deal - one more for my wishlist! It sounds like something I'd really enjoy.

  11. I do enjoy quirky characters so it's going on my list. I'm really digging the cover too!


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