Guy Vanderhaeghe – Man Descending

Winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction in 1982

I came across this little gem a while ago and just had to share, though it might be a bit of a stretch to classify the book as prairie history.  Guy Vanderhaeghe grew up in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan and lives in Saskatoon.  Last summer, I noted that he hosted the book launch for Bill Waiser.  Apparently, they have been good friends for 30 years.

I know from experience that writing can be very autobiographical — what else does one draw from but their own life experiences?  I guess that’s why there are very few twenty year old writers.   I suspect at least some of the ten short stories in this book are in the autobiographical category.

I am a huge fan of John Steinbeck, but after reading this book, I am of the opinion that Guy Vanderhaeghe’s writing rivals anything Steinbeck has ever published.  As it says on the book cover, Vanderhaeghe describes the human condition superbly — at its best, and its worst.  The stories, the text and the dialogue are as real as anything I have ever read and at times I was laughing out loud as I savoured the ten short stories.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone with a sense of humour.  It is full of prairie people.


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