A surprising tale of two brothers, and strange and familiar stories of the Cowichan Valley.
“Stenson's observations of the ordinariness of people are keen and revelatory. ”–Prairie Fire
These stories shimmer in summer heat under the gaze of a two-humped mountain and belong to the Cowichan Valley. Children born to ex-cons, lawyers, longshoremen, wood carvers, investors and gamblers write their own new-generation stories, at times melodic, often discordant, always determined to carry a tune.
Half Brothers is a masterly and unsentimental novella about the lives of two brothers left unchanneled by parental review. One brother is tough and likes to fight, the other does not. One is the father’s favourite and the other hides when he can. But in an extraordinary reversal of roles, and as the years pass, readers ultimately learn which one has the true grit. In the four short stories; Ball and Chain,, Bon,,Dick and Jane and Super Reader, Stenson uses wry wit and edgy juxtapositions to capture the voices of the young and old of small-town Duncan. This is Canadian Literature at its best—calling forth a country that already exists. Flying beneath the radar, Stenson is one of our best fictionists.
Bill Stenson won the Great BC Novel contest with his compelling novel, Ordinary Strangers (MTP, 2018). His books of fiction include Translating Women, Svoboda and Hanne and Her Brother. His work has appeared in many literary magazines in Canada and the US. He was born in Nelson, B.C., went to a one-room schoolhouse on Thetis Island and grew up on a small farm in Duncan. He taught English and Creative Writing at various high schools, the Victoria School of Writing and the University of Victoria. He lives in the Cowichan Valley, B.C.
David Lester is a musician, graphic designer and graphic novelist. His most recent book is Prophet Against Slavery: Benjamin Lay, A Graphic Novel (Beacon Press) created with Marcus Rediker and Paul Buhle. He also illustrated “1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike”, (published in English, German and French editions). 1919 was co-winner of the 2020 CAWLS Book Prize. Lester’s poster of anti-war protester Malachi Ritscher was exhibited at The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. He is guitarist in the rock duo Mecca Normal, cited as an influence on the founders of the feminist social movement Riot Grrrl. He lives in Vancouver, Canada.