On Saturday, June 24 12:30-13:30 in the Comox Room, Shetland poet and novelist Robert Alan Jamieson will be reading from his new novel, MacCLOUD FALLS. Here is a synopsis:
“In the summer of 2011, Gilbert Johnson, an ageing Edinburgh antiquarian bookseller suffering from cancer, who had only ever travelled via books before, decides to make one big journey while he is still fit enough – to British Columbia on the trail of an early settler he believes may have been his runaway grandfather, a man who went on to become important in the embryonic ‘Indian Rights’ movement of the early 20th century. Johnson’s lifelong ambition of writing a great book has previously been frustrated by anxiety of influence, but liberated by the prospect of death, now he is determined to devote whatever time he has left to the task of telling the story of this heroic figure, Jimmy Lyle. Flying over the Rocky Mountains he meets a fellow passenger, a Canadian woman who, it later emerges, is also undergoing treatment for cancer, so beginning a relationship that ultimately carries the two of them deep into the Interior of the province. After a few days together, Johnson makes his way north from Vancouver to a tiny hamlet in the great canyon where Lyle had lived. Here, as he interviews local people, Johnson discovers that the history he has come seeking is far from resolved, and very much part of the present. The struggle his forebear had engaged with is as alive as it has ever been. Slowly he comes to realise that, for the First Nations community there, Lyle was not the hero of the tale but a mere conduit, and that his native N’laka’pamux wife Antko is the one held in reverence. Indeed, the early Scottish settlement is all but forgotten – even the settlers’ name for the place has lost its ‘mac’ prefix, becoming simply ‘Cloud Falls’. When his new Canadian acquaintance turns up there, worried for his safety by a message he has sent her, her striking resemblance to the actress Sigourney Weaver leads to a farce of mistaken identity, and the local folk come to believe that the wandering ‘Scotchman’, who has been going around asking questions, is really a scriptwriter and that a film is to be made of Lyle’s life. To escape this bizarre situation, together they travel deeper into the Interior in search of something more real, arriving at the homestead of a man Johnson has sold books to over the internet but ever met, a man of Scottish extraction who has a marvellous secret to share. ‘macCLOUD FALLS’ is both exploration of early Scottish colonisation of B.C., its ongoing impact, and a road-trip romance full of humour, rich characters and incident in the shadow of impending death, played out against the backdrop of Vancouver Canucks vainglorious Stanley Cup run. And then there’s a dog called Hero …”
Click here for information on Robert Alan Jamieson from the “Scottish Poetry Library” website.