By Howard White. Harbour Publishing, 205pp, softcover
Every once in a while, I come across a book that makes me feel like a plumber. As hockey fans know, that's the term for a hard-working player without a lot of talent.
Only this time, I’m applying the word to writing. Here on the Coast: Reflections From the Rainbelt is one of those books.
That’s because the author, Harbour Publishing founder Howard White, is so damn clever and knowledgeable that he leaves the rest of us wondering why we even bother pecking on a keyboard for a living.
In this collection of 50 stories from the Sunshine Coast, the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour winner skewers everything from the name of the region—it’s actually pretty rainy most of the year—to the desire of real-estate hustlers to name streets in ways that attract more buyers.
There are also deeply informed and amusing essays highlighting the folly of a fixed link to the Sunshine Coast and the incomprehensible spelling conventions applied by scholars to Indigenous place names.
“I have never understood how language revivalists hope to bring dying tongues back into popular usage by spelling them in an alphabet that can only be deciphered by those with a degree in linguistics,” White writes.
Elsewhere in the book, he delves into the real-estate value locked up in boats that people rarely use. Then there’s a funny tale about a guy who detests travelling that comes with a surprising conclusion.
Along the way, White dishes up delicious servings of Sunshine Coast history.
This is B.C. writing at its finest—so conversational, so profound, and so utterly unpretentious. No wonder they gave this guy the Order of Canada.