One Good Thing is a delightful hybrid of creative non-fiction and memoir coming into contact with the living, exuberant, and vulnerable natural world. Written in sixty short epistolary chapters, M. A.C. Farrant’s latest offering represents a search for hope and appeasement in a rapidly changing and often perplexing society. One Good Thing is also a book of homage to gardening columnist extraordinaire Helen Chesnut of Victoria’s Times Colonist, as each section focusses and expands on a particular gardening column of hers.
Using a familiar “Dear Helen” structure, almost every piece in One Good Thing intimately and playfully relates to the gardening article that gave rise to it while simultaneously ranging into myriad other topics, including the author’s creative practice, personal and familial details, and comic riffs on a number of close-to-the-heart themes. The book thrives, with a mindful persistence that’s often hilarious, on finding personal “calm abidance” through the practice of gardening as mediated by the universal and personal practice of writing.
Perhaps it was the optimistic headline – “Seedy Connections Yield Refreshing Results” – that drew me in, and the focus you applied to producing one good thing: a cucumber. I read the column as if it were a life raft of hope. One good thing. Planting success, you wrote, comes from saving seeds from season to season. Seeds are a kind of life raft too, aren’t they?
This is what I am thinking: What if we could get the same results from seeding hope as you’ve achieved with seeding the Crystal Apple cucumber? What if we could make hope in these times grow as abundant and refreshing and cooling and prevailing as that cucumber?
M.A.C. Farrant is the author of seventeen works of fiction, non-fiction, memoir, two plays, and over one hundred book reviews and essays. The World Afloat: Miniatures, a collection of very short fiction, and volume one in a trilogy of miniature fiction, was published by Talonbooks in 2014 and won the City of Victoria Book Butler Book Prize for that year. The Days: Forecasts, Warnings, Advice, volume two in the series, was published by Talon in 2016 and was a finalist for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize for 2017 and the 2017 ReLit Award. The third collection in the series, The Great Happiness, appeared in the spring of 2019. “Farrant’s work is infused with iconoclastic innovation” (Globe and Mail). The Ottawa Citizen has called Farrant “one of the best humourists in the land.” BC Bookworld has called her “Canada’s most acerbic and intelligent humourist.” She has been described in print on numerous occasions as “the bizarro Alice Munro.”