Review: 40 Below: Edmonton’s Winter Anthology (Various Authors)

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40 belowTitle: 40 Below: Edmonton’s Winter Anthology
Author:
Various Authors (Edited by Jason Lee Norman)
Date(s) read
: October 10 – 12, 2013
Genre: Short Stories
Source: Publisher (Paperback)

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40 Below is Edmonton’s Winter Antholgy. Stories, poems, and essays about or inspired by winter in Edmonton.

Featuring: Jason Lee Norman, Diana Davidson, Jessica Kluthe, Michael Hingston, Jennifer Quist, and much more. 

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Thank you to Wufniks Press for the copy of this book for review!

Winter in Edmonton is a strange beast. We all know that it’s going to come in at some point and yet some of us are NEVER prepared. For me, I look forward to winter every single year. I’m not sure what it is, but when winter comes, the world slows down and gets a little quieter. We all retreat inside of our homes with our fireplaces and blankets, our coffee or tea, and hold our loved ones close in an attempt to warm up just a bit more.

“Despite living for several years in Canada, I always feel depressed and tired during the winter season. As you gradually accustom yourself to the Canadian weather, you’ll stop getting excited for the snow and winter.”
– from My First Wild Winter by Amir Baharun

(I feel like I also have to promote one of the songs I’VE written about winter. After reading so many beautiful stories in this collection, I think I can make at least one contribution. I wrote Wild Birds in 2008 and it still remains to be one of my favourite songs.)

“Of course, I know that I romanticize Edmonton winters. It is lovely and wonderful and magical when one doesn’t have to experience it directly.”
– from Southern Lament by Gregory Ramshaw

Anyway, when I started this anthology, written entirely by Edmonton authors, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would it be full of fictional tales? True accounts? Abstract things written about the strange Edmonton climate? What I got was all of the above. The anthology is a beautiful mix of short stories and poems — all of various lengths. My personal favourites remain to be the true accounts of winter in the city, usually told by people who haven’t lived here all their life. Being someone who loves the snow, I know that feeling of the first snowfall and wanting to walk down the crunching streets feeling that winter chill on your cheeks. (In fact, I’ll let you in on one of my favourite things to do in the winter — when the snow is falling and night has draped our city with her blackness, I like to bundle up and go for a walk with Radiohead’s OK Computer playing in my ears. It’s perfect.)

“and for you
winter in Edmonton leave nothing
nothing at all to complain about”
– from O Jackie by B. Joanne Underwood

By the end of the book, I felt completley prepared for this upcoming winter — in fact, I was looking forward to it. There was something about these stories that not only brought out the terrifying moments of winter, but also the beauty of winter. I hope that the stories will make people long for the days of winter rather than run in fear. Winter — and really, the seasons — is one of the best parts of living here. I definitely plan to revisit some of these stories in winters to come.

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4 thoughts on “Review: 40 Below: Edmonton’s Winter Anthology (Various Authors)

  1. Great review! I really loved the variety, from realistic first-person accounts to poetry. I also liked that it wasn’t ALL hooray-for-winter, because not everyone feels that way. It was balanced.

    Now to work on my review! 🙂

    • It was so realistic. I mean, I know that *I’m* always hoorah-hoorah for winter, but not everyone else is. And really, it has days where it can be the most beautiful thing ever (like the first snowfall) to laugh out loud funny (like the time I drove into a snowbank about 2km from home after the road “disappeared”) to completely devastating and scary (like the time I hit the ice merging onto the Yellowhead during morning rush hour and went into the ditch).

      Balanced stories are good stories. 🙂

  2. Great review, Kristilyn! I’m still working my way through this book (almost done now though!) and I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. People often think Jim and I are crazy for leaving behind the “winters” of BC, but this book truly reminds me of what it means to be and Edmontonian and how it’s possible to miss 40 below winters. I wouldn’t give up my childhood memories of winters in Edmonton for anything!

    • Right? I love winter and have so many great memories. Even now if I go into the ditch (like the one time I drove straight into a snowbank when the road disappeared, or the time I drove my car slowly into the ditch by the mailbox when I hit a groove and couldn’t stop from going in) I just laugh. I don’t bitch about it, but take my time driving and what happens happens. I always think that if you’re going to constantly complain about the weather here then maybe you should reconsider where you’re living. It’s Alberta! It snows!

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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