“It all started with two terrific stories by Carmel Mikol and Hector MacNeil,” says Breton Books editor Ron Caplan. “We had to share them—but two stories are not enough for a book.”
So Caplan and his co-worker Bonnie Thompson gathered the twenty new stories that became Local Hero.
Caplan points out that “Cape Breton Island has to be the short story capital of Canada. We’ve produced so many award-winning writers. And Local Hero is proof that taut, powerful and deeply involving stories continue to be written here.”
Local Hero opens with Carmel Mikol’s breathtaking first line “The night they come for him, he’s barely getting air,” and her excellent writing is matched by a surgical cut to the core of our fears as we care for those we love. Hector MacNeil’s title story tells of complex emotions that often bedevil heroes.
Local Hero delivers a rich and lasting experience. There’s Larry Gibbons’ all-too-human businessman making the right decisions against his own better judgement, and Carol Bruneau’s life-saving spinster aunt who acts heroicly before she thinks. Teresa O’Brien paints marital discord pushed to the brink. Readers will laugh out loud as Julie Curwin’s despairing intern persists in his doctoring role despite his fear of “Killing Agnes Donakowski,” and everyone will relate to Tim Vassallo’s portrait of a son’s wrestling match with his father’s perilous aging adventures.
Bonnie Thompson says that Local Hero is really about love. The love of life itself—brilliantly conveyed in David Muise’s vignettes provoked by smells, Ruth Morris Schneider’s descent into snow and ice on a rare courageous trek, Jigs Gardner’s learning curve in “Owly Bob,” and even the drug- and alcohol-fueled wild ride through Sue McKay Miller’s prairie night.
A mother’s love and strength prevail in stories by D.C. Troicuk, Ellison Robertson, and Joyce Rankin. And Charlotte Musial exquisitely presents the many forms of love that can enrich elderly lives, while Clive Doucet offers a passion for language in the friendship of two “outsider” boys from Cape Breton’s Gaelic and Acadian worlds. Two other boys struggle towards maturity through the blackness of poverty, coal, and tragedy, expertly presented by Victor Sakalauskas. And Local Hero closes with Bill Conall’s unsurpassed tenderness.
From Dave Doucette’s threatening—and threatened—teenagers to Maureen Hull’s compassionate take on the cross-country worklife of today’s young adults, the twenty writers in Local Hero offer up a profound and entertaining experience.
Everyone is invited to join Cape Breton writers for the book launch party with readings from Local Hero at the McConnell Library on Tuesday November 24, 4 to 6 pm. There will be punch and cookies, and CBC Mainstreet’s Wendy Bergfeldt will broadcast the party live. This event is free.