A recent email reminded your humble e-scribbler that it was time to update the recommended list of books on Newfoundland and Labrador. There are more than five and even more than 10 books you should read.
To get us started, here are some suggestions from a faithful support of the Bond Papers, historian Jerry Bannister. We'll feature some other lists as the summer wears on.
Hard-headed and big-hearted: writing Newfoundland, a collection of writing by Stuart Pierson, edited by Strand Dragland "never got the attention it deserved," according to Bannister. Here's an extract from Bannister's review of the book:
Dragland divides Pierson’s writing into three principal categories. The first, “Fitting Newfoundland In,” contains Pierson’s essays on history and historical geography, including his unpublished review of the Historical Atlas of Canada. The second section, “A Dodge To Cheat Death,” comprises reviews of writers, poets, novelists, and songwriters. It includes his extensive commentary on Wayne Johnston’s novels, particularly his rather infamous review of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. The third section, “The Community’s Medicine,” consists of Pierson’s reviews of photography and visual art. Although Dragland’s habit of inventing titles for some of the reviews can be irritating, he has supplemented Pierson’s references with thoughtful notes, and he successfully avoids intruding too much on the original essays. Pierson lamented the decline of editorial standards, but I suspect that he would have been pleased with the quality of Dragland’s work (I failed to find a significant typographical error).
"What's been striking me," Bannister wrote in a recent email, "is just how ridiculously tenacious Smallwood's hold on Newfoundland and Labrador remains. Whenever I think that we're post-Smallwood, I ended up discovering that something said by Danny Williams or somebody was already said by Smallwood."
"So my next recommendation would be that anyone who wants to know Newfoundland and Labrador history should read the two Smallwood bios by Gwyn and Horwood."
"Then read Robert Payne's Ayatollahs and turkey trots : political rhetoric in the new
Newfoundland: Crosbie, Jamieson and Peckford (1981)" and Ray Blake's Lions or jellyfish: Newfoundland-Ottawa relations since 1957, hard copy or Kobo
"What strikes me is the recurrent fixation on the 'new
Newfoundland,' from Smallwood right through to Williams."