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At the World’s Edge: Curt Lang's Vancouver 1937-1998 Paperback – Oct 1 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Mother Tongue (Oct. 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1896949177
  • ISBN-13: 978-1896949178
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 17.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #477,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

Letter to Vienna: "If Claudia Cornwall is a scholar, she is also an eloquent writer. Letter from Vienna is a beautifully composed book—in structure and in tone. Cornwall weaves a volume out of the strands of family stories, letters, poems, conversations and diary entries—her own and those of others."- Susan Perren, Globe and Mail. Winner of the BC Book Award for Best Non-Fiction.

About the Author

Claudia Cornwall’s book,Letter from Vienna: A Daughter Uncovers her Family’s Jewish Past, won the BC Book Prize for best non-fiction in 1996. Her most recent book is At the World’s Edge: Curt Lang’s Vancouver: 1937-1998, was a finalist for the 2012 City of Vancouver Book Award. She lives in North Vancouver.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Curt Lang was a multifaceted and very talented man, and in At the World's Edge Claudia Cornwall does a fine job of considering him in his many contexts -- as a friend, as a poet and visual artist, and as a technical innovator. Not to mention a vibrant presence, in Vancouver and wherever he went: Europe, central Canada, up and down the west coast. The book is a great balancing act, mixing the author's personal anecdotes and insights with those of many of Curt's friends and associates. And finally, it's beautifully designed and a pleasure both to read and to browse through, for Curt's photographs. I had trouble putting the book down, and am sorry it was not longer. I think many readers will feel the same way.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa67db054) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa67fc210) out of 5 stars Elegy for a Romantic Dec 1 2011
By Michael Boxall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Old ways of life disappear as the places that nurture them change. Vancouver has been transformed in recent decades, and as the press of North America's fourth most densely-packed city tightens the chance to follow a particular kind of freedom has all but vanished. For people like Curt Lang, the golden tide of wealth has narrowed Vancouver's horizons, not widened them.

Not that there were many people like Lang, even in what his contemporaries like to call the good old days. He was born in 1937 and died at 61, just before the turn of the century. Claudia Cornwall's meticulous biography covers in detail what he did in those years.

It's a resume notable for its sweep, a kind of magpie picking up and shaking of whatever occupation caught his eye. He was a poet throughout his life, and while still in his teens was praised as such by Malcolm Lowry. He was a painter, and shared a rat-plagued studio with the late Fred Douglas. Never far from destitution, the two worked as janitors at the Vancouver Art Gallery and Cornwall describes how they whiled away the nights by racing picture carts like chariots.

Like Douglas, he became a photographer and the city's archives now hold 12,000 of his prints, images of a time and place on the verge of slipping away even as he photographed them. Over thirty of these illustrate the book. They show a rough-hewn, rainy town still identifiable as the offspring of logging camps and lumber mills.

He was a spectacularly unsuccessful bookseller but a capable fish buyer, dispensing attache-cases stuffed with cash around northern fishing communities. Always a consumate auto-didact, he later devised and built a rangefinder camera and created a system by which railroad companies could measure warping of the tracks. But he never became rich. Not because he couldn't. He simply wasn't interested.

Cornwall's book gives a strong sense of the beatnik world in which such an attitude and the life it necessitated were still possible. She set out to answer the question, who was Curt Lang? The answer is that he was one of the last members of a breed which has become virtually extinct: a Vancouver Romantic. At the World's Edge is a loving elegy for the man, his time, and the place in which they flourished.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa67fc4e0) out of 5 stars Curt Lang: A Legend in Vancouver, B.C. Nov. 29 2011
By Story Circle Book Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Curt Lang's life was full of such a variety of occupations, avocations and inventions that there's something to pique everyone's interest in this biography by one of his friends: freelance writer Claudia Cornwall.

The unraveling of Curt Lang's life is a fascinating journey, all the more so as it was undertaken by an award-winning journalist. Cornwall talked to many friends of Lang's: his mother Hope; his two wives Gail (now Abby) and Ruth; his brother Greg who wrote the introduction; and her own husband Gordon. For twelve years, Claudia and Gordon were friends of Lang's and recollections include the businesses the men were involved in together as well as their personal interactions. The Cornwalls kept journals and Lang also had unpublished writing all of which have obviously been an invaluable resource for this biography.

Cornwall poses questions and offers her opinions and personal thoughts at times, but not so much as to detract from the story of her subject. Her writing is such that it illuminates Lang's mercurial nature and allows him, along with the memories of him, to take centre stage. Having said that, the biographer's journey is an interesting one too. The unfolding of the story is rather like reading a mystery novel as the author sets out, like a private eye, to find out all she can about her subject and his usual haunts. Because of the describing of her own journey of discovery, the book is a memoir as well as a biography--a stimulating combination.

I especially enjoy reading about writers' early lives so was particularly interested in the fact that, when Lang was a teenager, he showed his poems to Malcolm Lowry who had already published Under the Volcano and was living in a North Vancouver beach cottage. Al Purdy also became a friend in 1952, when he was working in a mattress factory, before he became a well known poet.

Lang knew many other poets and artists including David Marshall and Fred Douglas. Douglas and Lang shared "a dilapidated, rat-infested studio" on Vancouver's West Pender in the late 1950s. They got up to a lot of mischief while working as janitors at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

In the early 1970s, Lang was a street photographer and a member of the Leonard Frank Memorial Society of Documentary Photographers, along with his good friend Fred Douglas. Previously unpublished poetry, drawings and photographs are included in the book as well as an exceptional portfolio of forty rare 1972 Vancouver photographs. Wood houses, small corner grocery stores, cafes and apartments are among the images of the ordinary places that make up a city and would have appealed to the unpretentious Lang.

Lang went on to design and build boats and become a fisherman in his thirties. During the next decade, he became involved in the high-tech industry where he was awarded two patents and started several companies.

At one point, Cornwall feared she was "locking him in to these pages." From what I've read, there can be no locking of Curt Lang, even after death. The book will no doubt ignite more memories of the man and the early days of Vancouver and environs.

by Mary Ann Moore
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
HASH(0xa67fc918) out of 5 stars Elegy for a Romantic Aug. 6 2012
By Michael C. Boxall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Old ways of life disappear as the places that nurture them change. Vancouver has been transformed in recent decades, and as the press of North America's fourth most densely-packed city tightens the chance to follow a particular kind of freedom has all but vanished. For people like Curt Lang, the golden tide of wealth has narrowed Vancouver's horizons, not widened them.

Not that there were many people like Lang, even in what his contemporaries like to call the good old days. He was born in 1937 and died at 61, just before the turn of the century. Claudia Cornwall's meticulous biography covers in detail what he did in those years.

It's a resume notable for its sweep, a kind of magpie picking up and shaking of whatever occupation caught his eye. He was a poet throughout his life, and while still in his teens was praised as such by Malcolm Lowry. He was a painter, and shared a rat-plagued studio with the late Fred Douglas. Never far from destitution, the two worked as janitors at the Vancouver Art Gallery and Cornwall describes how they whiled away the nights by racing picture carts like chariots.

Like Douglas, he became a photographer and the city's archives now hold 12,000 of his prints, images of a time and place on the verge of slipping away even as he photographed them. Over thirty of these illustrate the book. They show a rough-hewn, rainy town still identifiable as the offspring of logging camps and lumber mills.

He was a spectacularly unsuccessful bookseller but a capable fish buyer, dispensing attache-cases stuffed with cash around northern fishing communities. Always a consumate auto-didact, he later devised and built a rangefinder camera and created a system by which railroad companies could measure warping of the tracks. But he never became rich. Not because he couldn't. He simply wasn't interested.

Cornwall's book gives a strong sense of the beatnik world in which such an attitude and the life it necessitated were still possible. She set out to answer the question, who was Curt Lang? The answer is that he was one of the last members of a breed which has become virtually extinct: a Vancouver Romantic. At the World's Edge is a loving elegy for the man, his time, and the place in which they flourished.
HASH(0xa67fccd8) out of 5 stars Captivating story Aug. 15 2012
By I.B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are people who do not follow the stream, but make the stream follow them, Curt Lang was such a person. The story of his life is captivating: the book makes its reader think what life may be really given for...


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