--(Starred Review) The Quill & Quire
From the Author
I write to figure out what I think about things and toattempt to find meaning. I try to find metaphors in which to explore my feelings and thoughts on what obsesses me.
As I pondered my concerns about the ever-widening gaps I noticed around me, a story from my past kept rising to the surface. Ilived in Nova Scotia for a brief time in 1972-1973. While there, Iheard stories about a community up on a nearby mountain. They wereterrible stories, involving incest, aborted and deformed babies,prostitution, bootlegging and so forth. I told myself these dreadfultales couldn't be true. I believed, naively, that if they were true,surely someone would have done something about it. Then, in the early1980s one of the children of the Goler clan told her story ofgenerational abuse to a teacher. This teacher came from anotherprovince and hadn't been in Nova Scotia very long. She in turn calledan RCMP officer, who also hadn't been in the community for very long.They insisted an investigation begin and eventually many of the clanadults were in jail and the children in foster care.
I was horrified, but also mystified. If all thoserumors were true, why had it taken so long for someone to intervene?Well, the answer seemed to be that the people who lived on the mountainhad, for generations, been considered "Those People" as in "What do youexpect from those people?" The people who lived in theprosperous Annapolis Valley nearby, in communities founded hundreds ofyears earlier on Puritanical religious principles, believed theirneighbors were so "Other" as to be beyond the pale.
The extreme marginalization of the community and theterrible repercussions of ostracism haunted me and it seemed the perfect framework to explore how such ordinary people could do such dreadfulthings, or permit such dreadful things to continue.
I have had several instances in my own life of feelinglike the "Other." Although I explore the theme more personally in myprevious novel, THE STUBBORN SEASON, in which a young girl battles thetyranny of living with a mentally ill mother during the GreatDepression, in OUR DAILY BREAD the character of Ivy Evans is based onsome of my own experiences with marginalization. My family, afflictedby mental illness and alcoholism, was going through a rough time thesummer I was nine. I was an only child, and adopted, and rather bookish and prone to making up stories, all of which helped to make me 'Other'in the eyes of some of the children in the neighborhood. That summer, a lady who owned a little antique shop near my house let me hang aroundthe store. I'm sure she never knew just how much that meant to me, butit was a refuge from loneliness and bullying and I've never forgottenit.