Books·Canadian

Moccasin Square Gardens

Moccasin Square Gardens is a short story collection by Richard Van Camp.

Richard Van Camp

The characters of Moccasin Square Gardens inhabit Denendeh, the land of the people north of the 60th parallel. These stories are filled with in-laws, outlaws and common-laws. Get ready for illegal wrestling moves (The Camel Clutch), pinky promises, a doctored casino, extraterrestrials or "Sky People," love, lust and prayers for peace.

While this is Van Camp's most hilarious short story collection, it's also haunted by the lurking presence of the Wheetago, human-devouring monsters of legend that have returned due to global warming and the greed of humanity. The stories in Moccasin Square Gardens show that medicine power always comes with a price.

To counteract this darkness, Van Camp weaves a funny and loving portrayal of the Tłı̨chǫ Dene and other communities of the North, drawing from oral history techniques to perfectly capture the character and texture of everyday small-town life. Moccasin Square Gardens is the nickname of a dance hall in the town of Fort Smith that serves as a meeting place for a small but diverse community. In the same way, the collection functions as a meeting place for an assortment of characters, from shamans and time-travelling goddess warriors to pop-culture-obsessed pencil pushers, to con artists, archivists and men who just need to grow up, all seeking some form of connection. (From D&M Publishers)

From the book

I wanna tell you a beautiful story, and I've been waiting for somebody very special to tell it to. I guess it's no secret now: the Star People are here. We can see a ship way up high: its outline. No lights. It's like a big, dark, oblong stone in the sky. Most people just watch TV or Facebook now, waiting for something to happen. Some people call the ships obelisks. Apparently, there's a huge one miles high over every continent, and the oceans are boiling. Gently, though, so no fish are dying. There's a simmering to the water, and scientists are saying that the oceans and rivers are being cleansed. It's like the Star People — that's what our Elders call them — are helping us.

Church bells all over the world chime every hour on the hour now, but I'm not sure why. One of the young men here one night got drunk and took his dad's rifle and shot at the ship. When he woke up he didn't have any hair. It was all there, right on his pillow. He wasn't hurt; he's just... embarrassed.


From Alien in Moccasin Square Gardens by Richard Van Camp ©2019. Published by Douglas and McIntyre.

Interviews with Richard Van Camp

Richard Van Camp talks to Shelagh Rogers about his new book Moccasin Square Gardens: Short Stories. 16:56
Unreserved explores Indigenous inclusion in comics and graphic novels and how this form of storytelling has been around longer than we think. Interviews with Richard Van Camp, David Robertson and Hope Nicholson. 39:08

Other books by by Richard Van Camp

 

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