I really wanted to love this book! After all, I have lived in Vancouver for many years, and I am familiar with the plight of those in Vancouver Downtown Eastside.
This is a small volume of nine short stories (262pages) that take place on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. To the author's credit, the stories are told without judgement, morality, or sentimentality. The author worked on the Vancouver Downtown Eastside for a time as a homeless shelter, reaching out to those in need, so I'm sure he knows his subject.
However, I found that I was left a bit cold by some of the short stories. I found the book to be uneven, which I suppose is not unexpected in book of short stories. Some tales really grabbed me - like "Discard" - the story of a widower left on his own, who decides to seek out his long forgotten grandson by going to live in the alleys where unbeknowst to his grandson, he meets up with him and they join forces." Good Bye PorkPie Hat" was a look into rooming houses in the downtown Eastside and a man addicted to crack. " King Me" was a fascinating look into the lives - one in particular - of those still left in Vancouver's Mental Hospital, Riverview. That story was quite heartbreaking -and yet - those people probably have it better than those who have been turned out of Riverview Hospital to the Downtown Eastside. Another story tugged at my heartstrings -" The Queen of Cans and Jars". In summary, it's the tale of a woman who worked in the shoe department of Woodwards. After losing her job at Woodwards she choses to run and live in within the premises of a second hand thrift shop in the Downtown Eastside. Another stab at the heart concerns the story of a mentally disabled man, who relies on a somewhat dishonest buddy to manage his affairs, rather than live in a boarding house. I don't want to say to much more - so as not to spoil the book for any of you. The last story is an interesting twist of a tale.
While this book did not grab me the way I expected - in retrospect, I supppose the majority of the stories were worthwhile reads. This author did particulary well in portraying the poor, the marginalized, and the mentally ill -and how so many of us could be but a short step from those on the street. For that reason alone, perhaps this is an important read.