Published in Nova Scotia and Winnipeg, Fernwood’s About Canada is a long series of little books, about a hundred pages each, with extensive notes.
Their subjects cover a wide range and provide introductory — or maybe, “all you want or need to know” — information, both historical and up-to-date.
The two reviewed here are Queer Rights by Peter Knegt and Disability Rights by Deborah Stienstra. Prices are not given.
Disability Rights, the more recent of the two, also has a section entitled Sources for Further Reading.
Disability Rights and Queer Rights are both invaluable sources — as are the other books in the series — for anyone who has the least interest in their subjects.
They are not literary or enjoyable to read, but they are literate and competent.
They would be a godsend to anyone who lives far from a library or a comprehensive bookstore.
For those who are involved with either of these issues, it may be interesting to note that both subjects became issues and movements in the 1970s and that, though conditions for both have considerably improved since that time, both have still a long way to go.
Government attitudes embodied in legislation vary throughout Canada. In addition, the contribution of many a short-lived organization is acknowledged carefully.
Throughout these books, there are frequent sidebars, usually telling the story of a typical person which illustrates the historical sections. And all such persons are given credit under their own names.
Finally the books close with the following sentences: “The interconnections illustrated in these stories help us learn what disability teaches ... that it is not about ‘us’ and ‘them, but that ‘we’ are ‘them’ and ‘they’ are ‘us’ because of our shared and diverse humanity...”
The Ocean Ranger by Susan Dodd is subtitled Remaking the Promise of Oil (no price given). Written by a young woman whose brother died in the accident — along with 83 others — it tells of the aftermath from both a personal and a sociological point of view.
On the one hand, we read of the various family’s reactions and how they settled for a one-time payment of $25,000 as the quickest, though not the most satisfactory way, of putting an end to the financial process.
However, on the other hand, Dodd describes how the catastrophe was given a positive twist by the government and the oil companies, and thence by the media.
This combination makes for both a shocking and a fascinating study, which everyone concerned with how things are done should read.
Elizabeth Cran is a freelance writer who writes a book review column for The Guardian, which appears in the newspaper every Saturday. She welcomes comments from readers, as well as books to review. To comment or to send her books for reviing, write her at 111 Sydney St., Apt. 17, Saint John, N.B., E2L 2L8. She can also be reached by phone at 506-693-5498.