Angel Wing Splash Pattern

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Author: Richard Van Camp

Published: 2002

Genre: Short stories

About Angel Wing Splash Pattern: Collection of nine short stories.

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Stories

  1. Mermaids
  2. Let's Beat the Shit Out of Herman Rosko!
  3. Why Ravens Smile to Little Old Ladies as They Walk By
  4. the uranium leaking from port radium and rayrock mines is killing us
  5. The Night Charles Bukowski Died
  6. Sky Burial
  7. Snow White Nothing for Miles
  8. My Fifth Step
  9. How I Saved Christmas

Review of Angel Wing Splash Pattern

"Look at Kevin Costner," Clarence added, standing in his jack boots and camouflage pants.

"Kevin Costner. What about him?"

He waved his hands in the air. "The Indians always save Kevin Costner. There was Dances with Wolves and Revenge."

I thought about it. "Revenge? That was the Mexicans that saved him."

"Cousins!" he cried. "The Mexicans are our cousins."

"Robin Hood and Bull Durham didn't have any Indians in them."

"The system, Grant," he shook his head, "the Wonder Breads are keeping us down. Look at this street: Little Vietnam. Look at this place: Row housing. When the CF-18's are carpet bombing the revolution, they'll just have to make one swoop and this town'll go up."

...from "Let's Beat the Shit Out of Herman Rosko!", page 15

This is a slim book, just 100 pages plus notes, but the stories are powerful. Nothing about the North is romanticized and although there is humour in these stories, a deep sadness, bordering on despair, runs through them. Or so it seemed to me.

I have to admit that when I was reading the stories, I sometimes felt there was something that I wasn't entirely getting, a connection that I was missing. Van Camp's notes at the end, explaining the inspiration for the stories, gave me a slight shift in perspective and helped me make that connection. I don't know how to explain it, really; I just know that it happened.

I thought all of the stories were remarkable. Here's three that I particularly liked.

In "Snow White Nothing for Miles" (which is a great title), a man gets lost in his memories while driving from Yellowknife to Edzo. This story showed a fierce pride in tradition and the struggle to keep money from changing things.

In "My Fifth Step", a man apologizes to a lost love, even though he can't actually contact her. I thought this story was heartbreaking and I liked that the narrator was honest about not knowing why he did the things he did.

"How I Saved Christmas" was my favourite story in the book, mostly because of Larry, the main character. I loved his attitude and the way he talked and pretty much everything about him. It's my understanding that he is also the main character in Van Camp's novel, The Lesser Blessed, so I will definitely be reading that one as well.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Lynn Bornath on 28 June 2009.

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More Reviews

Matthew Firth, The Danforth Review
“...bold, bare-knuckled, sincere, honest fiction.”

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Added 30 June 2009.
Updated 23 August 2013.