Friday, April 20, 2018

Excerpt: Adrift on an Ice-Pan by Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, installment #2

The following is an excerpt from Adrift on an Ice-Pan by Wilfred Thomason Grenfell. A true account of Grenfell's near death experience, it was first published in 1909 by Houghton Mifflin Company. The unabridged audiobook edition narrated by Chris Brookes, Jay Roberts and Janis Spence is available from Rattling Books.
It was late in April, when there is always the risk of getting wet through the ice, so that I was carefully prepared with spare outfit, which included a change of garments, snowshoes, rifle, compass, axe, and oilskin overclothes. The messengers were anxious that their team should travel back with mine, for they were slow at best and needed a lead. My dogs, however, being a powerful team, could not be held back, and though I managed to wait twice for their sleigh, I had reached a village about twenty miles on the journey before nightfall, and had fed the dogs, and was gathering a few people for prayers when they caught me up.

During the night the wind shifted to the northeast, which brought in fog and rain, softened the snow, and made traveling very bad, besides heaving a heavy sea into the bay. Our drive next morning would be somewhat over forty miles, the first ten miles on an arm of the sea, on salt-water ice.

In order not to be separated too long from my friends, I sent them ahead two hours before me, appointing a rendezvous in a log tilt that we have built in the woods as a halfway house. There is no one living on all that long coast-line, and to provide against accidents – which have happened more than once – we built this hut to keep dry clothing, food, and drugs in.

The first rain of the year was falling when I started, and I was obliged to keep on what we call the “ballicaters,” or ice barricades, much farther up the bay than I had expected. The sea of the night before had smashed the ponderous covering of ice right to the landwash. There were great gaping chasms between the enormous blocks, which we call pans, and half a mile out it was all clear water.

An island three miles out had preserved a bridge of ice, however, and by crossing a few cracks I managed to reach it. From the island it was four miles across to a rocky promontory, - a course that would be several miles shorter than going round the shore. Here as far as the eye could reach the ice seemed good, though it was very rough. Obviously, it had been smashed up by the sea and then packed in again by the strong wind from the northeast, and I thought it had frozen together solid.

All went well till I was about a quarter of a mile from the landing-point. Then the wind suddenly fell, and I noticed that I was traveling over loose “sish,” which was like porridge and probably many feet deep. By stabbing down, I could drive my whip-handle through the thin coating of young ice that was floating on it. The sish ice consists of the tiny fragments where the large pans have been pounding together on the heaving sea, like the stones of Freya’s grinding mill.

So quickly did the wind now come off shore, and so quickly did the packed “slob,” relieved of the wind pressure, “run abroad,” that already I could not see one pan larger than ten feet square; moveover, the ice was loosening so rapidly that I saw that retreat was absolutely impossible. Neither was there any way to get off the little pan I was surveying from.

To be continued.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Poem: Making the Fish by Michael Crummey

Making the Fish

Once you'd got the catch pitched up on the stage head, you got down to making the fish. Assembly line. Cutting table, blades of the knives pared almost to nothing by the sharpening stone. Woolen gloves soaked in fish guts, the water running red out of them when you make a fist. The cod passing through your hands llike knots in an unbroken string as long as the sea is wide.

Cut Throat
Get your fingers into the gills of a cod and lift it to the table, 15, 20 pounds some of them and the ache in your arm after three hours like the chill in a church hall on a February morning. Two motions with the knife, across the throat below the gills anad along the bare length of the belly, like a Catholic crossing himself before a meal. Push the fish along the table, the left hand of the man beside you reaching for it, he doesn't even turn his head in your direction.
Get your fingers in the gills of a cod and lift it to the table.

The open body, the knife in your right hand. The head taken off clean, as if you were castrating a young bull. The liver scalloped from the chest and pushed into the oil barrel, left there to ferment like fruit going bad. The tangle of guts lifted clear, the cod flesh pulled from beneath, a body freed from a messy accident. Organs and offal dropped through a hole in the cutting table to the salt water beneath the stage.
The gulls screaming outside, fighting over blood.

A good splitter could clear his way through 5 or 6 quintals an hour if the fish were a decent size, a full boat load done in three and out to the traps for more. Two cuts down each side of the sound bone, curved keel of the spine pulled clear and the cod splayed like a man about to be crucified. Dropped off the cutting table into the water of the puncheon tub, the next fish in your hands. Two cuts down each side, sound bone pulled clear, splayed cod dropped into the puncheon tub. Two cuts, sound bone pulled clear, cod into the tub. Two cuts, pull, into the tub.
By nine o'clock it is too dark to see properly, eyes as tender as skin soaked too long in salt water. The wicks are lit in bowls of kerosene: oily flame, spiralling spine of black smoke.

Empty wooden wheelbarrow set beside the puncheon tub, the flat, triangular sheets of fish meat hefted from the elbow-deep water.
Dead weight of the loaded barrow a strain on the shoulders, the bones shifting down in their sockets, the tendons stretching to hold them as the feet shuffle into the store house. A hogshead of salt beside the bins, a handful strown across the white insides of each fish before they're stacked. Weight of the pile squeezing water from the flesh.
Turn with the emptied barrow. Squeak of the wheel, squish of feet soaked inside the rubber boots. Arm fishing into the puncheon tub, elbow numb with the cold.

The Bawn
Wait for a fine day in August. Sweep a stretch of beach clear, put stones down over any patch of grass that might spoil the fish.
The salt cod taken from the bins and washed by hand in puncheon tubs, front and back, like a child about to be presented to royalty, the white scum scrubbed off the dark layer of skin. Carried to the bawn on fish bars and laid out neatly in sunlight, 150 quintals at a time, the length of the shoreline like a well-shingled roof.
Two fine days would finish the job, a week and a half to cure the season's catch. The merchant's ship arriving in September, anchoring off in the Tickle; the cured cod loaded into the boat and ferried out.

What it Made
You could expect $2 a quintal for your trouble, a good season for a crew was 400 quintals. anything more was an act of God. The Skipper took half a voyage, out of which he paid the girl her summer's wage, and squared up with the merchant for supplies taken on credit in the spring. The rest was split three ways. $130 for four months of work, it could cut the heart out of a man to think too much about what he was working for.

This poem appears in the collection Hard Light by Michael Crummey, printed by Brick Books. A selection from the book, 32 Little Stories, of which this poem is a part, was recorded by Rattling Books. Hard Light: 32 Little Stories by Michael Crummey, narrated by the author, Ron Hynes and Deidre Gillard-Rowlings is available as a digital download from Rattling Books.

The audiobook CD is available from Freds Records in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Excerpt: Easter Sunday from Adrift on an Ice-Pan by Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

The following is an excerpt from Adrift on an Ice-Pan by Wilfred Thomason Grenfell. A true account of Grenfell's near death experience it was first published in 1909 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

The unabridged audiobook edition narrated by Chris Brookes, Jay Roberts and Janis Spence is available as a digital download from Rattling Books or as an audiobook CD from Fred's Records in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

It was Easter Sunday at St. Anthony in the year 1908, but with us in northern Newfoundland still winter. Everything was covered with snow and ice. I was walking back after morning service, when a boy came running over from the hospital with the news that a large team of dogs had come from sixty miles to the southward, to get a doctor on a very urgent case. It was that of a young man on whom we had operated about a fortnight before for an acute bone disease in the thigh. The people had allowed the wound to close, the poisoned matter had accumulated, and we thought we should have to remove the leg. There was obviously, therefore, no time to be lost. So, having packed up the necessary instruments, dressings, and drugs, and having fitted out the dog-sleigh with my best dogs, I started at once, the messengers following me with their team.

My team was an especially good one. On many a long journey they had stood by me and pulled me out of difficulties by their sagacity and endurance. To a lover of his dogs, as every Christian man must be, each one had become almost as precious as a child to its mother. They were beautiful beasts: "Brin," the cleverest leader on the coast; "Doc," a large, gentle beast, the backbone of the team for power; "Spy," a wiry, powerful black and white dog; "Moody," a lop-eared black-and-tan, in this htird season, a plodder that never looked behind him; "Watch," the youngster of the team, long-legged and speedy, with great liquid eyes and a Gordon-setter coat; "Sue," a large, dark Eskimo, the image of a great black wolf, with her sharp pointed and perpendicular ears, for she "harked back" to her wild ancestry; "Jerry," a large roan-colored slut, the quickest of all my dogs on her feet, and so affectionate that her overtures of joy had often sent me sprawling on my back; "Jack," a jet-black, gentle-natured dog, more like a retriever, that always ran next the sledge, and never looked back but everlastingly pulled straight ahead, running always with his nose to the ground.

To be continued.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Poem: Close-up on a Sharp-Shinned Hawk by Don McKay


Concentrate upon her attributes:
the accipiter's short
roundish wings, streaked breast, talons fine
and slender as the x-ray of a baby's hand.
The eyes (yellow in this hatchling
later deepening to orange then
blood red) can spot
a sparrow at four hundred metres and impose
silence like an overwhelming noise
to which you must not listen.

Suddenly, if you're not careful, everything
goes celluloid and slow
and threatens to burn through and you
must focus quickly on the simple metal band around her leg
by which she's married to our need to know.

This poem is among those selected by Don McKay for his audiobook release with Rattling Books: Songs for the Songs of Birds.

Presently the digital download is 30% off for Poetry Month.
The Audiobook CD is available from Fred's Records in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Newfoundland Poems for Poetry Month : Percy Janes Boarding the Bus by Agnes Walsh

Percy Janes Boarding the Bus
a poem by Agnes Walsh

I was going to the Mall for a kettle
waiting on the number five,
when the number something-or-other
pulled up.

I was looking past it for mine,
when I saw him, an arm raised,
running softly.

I jumped to life, beat on the bus door,
siad to the driver: "Mr. Janes.
Mr. Percy Janes wants to get on."

He raised a "So what?" eyebrow.

Mr. Janes straightened his astrakhan hat,
mumbled thank you and stepped up.
As the bus rumbled on
I continued under my breath:
"Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Percy Janes,
Newfoundland writer, poet,
just boarded the number something-or-other."

If this was Portugal,
a plaque would be placed
over the seat where he sat.

As it is, you have me
mumbling in the street
like a tourist in my own country.

This poem appears in the audiobook poetry collection produced by Rattling Books entitled In the Old Country of My Heart by Agnes Walsh. Available online as a digital download and 30% off during April, National Poetry Month.  Also available as a hard copy CD from Fred's Records, St. John's Newfoundland.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Poem: Yet by Mary Dalton, from Merrybegot


Moll doll his chin;
Her hair birch-
Chalk and cheese, they said;
Cradle and grave,
They said;
You could smell
The smouldering, sparry,
Whenever they met.

This poem appears in the collection of poems by Mary Dalton entitled Merrybegot. The audiobook edition of Merrybegot published by Rattling Books in 2005 is performed by Anita Best with Patrick Boyle on trumpet and flugelhorn.

The audiobook digital download is available from Rattling Books online.
The audiobook CD is available from Fred's Records in St. John's, NL.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Rattling Books owner hounded by paparazzi declares Poetry the next Latte

Tired of beating off Globe and Mail, New York Times and Guardian paparazzi disguised as gulls eating garbage, Janet Russell, owner of the dazzlingly successful, befouled by money Rattling Books, emerged from the seaside villa company headquarters in Newfoundland today and granted a brief interview on the meaning of April.

“Poetry is the next latte," Russell said.

N.B. Rattling Books poetry audiobooks are 30% off for the whole of April, National Poetry Month.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Newfoundland Railway Wake Sale: 40% off Donovan's Station by Robin McGrath (audiobook)

This weekend is the 69th anniversary of the last run of the Newfoundland Railway. Newfoundland became the 10th province of Canada at midnight on March 31, 1949, and at that time the Newfoundland Railway ceased to exist. By April 1, the trains running through Riverhead and Gaff Topsails were part of the Canadian National Railway.

The passing of the Newfoundland Railway may have been in name only, but there are few people who don't remember the Railway with pride and sadness. The Railway was a major achievement for a small nation such as Newfoundland, and it was part of our national identity for decades.

To remember this celebrated part of our heritage, Rattling Books is holding a Wake Sale. From now until midnight on Monday, April 2, 2007, you can save 40% on the audiobook edition of Robin McGrath's captivating novel Donovan's Station.

Set in Newfoundland throughout the early twentieth century, Donovan's Station perfectly recreates the time when the Newfoundland Railway was at its height.

The sound of the train is so soothing in the evenings. I never guessed when they first put the tracks through that I could feel that way about it. Mr. Reid used to say that before the railway came, travel meant coaxing a jaded nag over the bogs and barrens or tossing about in a fog in a stinking jackboat, with as good a chance of drowning as of reaching your destination. I suppose a great many people agreed with him, which is why they turned out in such numbers for that first run. I know that for the fishermen, who had no work betwen September and Christmas, the work on the railbed was very welcome.- Donovan's Station by Robin McGrath
"Eighty-four years is time enough for one life," Keziah Donovan muses as she waits for death to re-unite her with her "own sweet man". Stricken down by a paralytic stroke, Keziah's body is immobile but her mind is on a journey through a life that spans two centuries. Carried along by her rich inner narrative, the reader travels through the disease, labour, and progress of tumultuous times and the equally turbulent events of personal history - births, marriages, deaths, and mysteries.Set in rural and urban Newfoundland, this novel is alive with its landscape and language. In Keziah Donovan, award-winning writer Robin McGrath has created an unforgettable story-teller with a voice so authentic and distinctive that it compels the reader to sit and listen, and rings in the ear long after the book is put down.

Read by the following (in order of duration):
Janis Spence as Keziah Donovan
Janet Russell as Kate
Andy Jones as Father Roche
Elizabeth Pickard as Elizabeth (Lizzie)
Merrill Francis as Dermot


Mesmerizing...Keziah Donovan should take her rightful place beside [Hagar Shipley and Mary Bundle]. - Jodi DeLong, Halifax Herald

Janis Spence, the main narrator, gives both a wistful quality as Keziah Donovan looks back on her life from her deathbed. Other readers portray supporting characters as they write letters or diary entries. These narrators sound as if they're talking to themselves while they write, with pen scratches in the background. The whole cast gives a quietly human performance.- AudioFile Magazine

Donovan's Station by Robin McGrath was shortlisted for the Caribbean & Canada Region of the Commonwealth Writers Prize 2003.

Listen to a clip on SoundCloud from the unabridged audio edition of Donovan's Station narrated by Janis Spence.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Excerpt: "The Lure of the Labrador Wild" by Dillon Wallace, setting: late March 1904

The following excerpt is from Dillon Wallace's classic story of the fateful canoe trip which Wallace, Leonidas Hubbard and George Elson made into the interior of Labrador in 1903 (The Lure of the Labrador Wild originally published in 1905 by Fleming H. Revell, New York) .

The unabridged audio edition of The Lure of the Labrador Wild by Dillon Wallace narrated by Jody Richardson is available from

“…On Sunday, March 27th, I was sitting in the cosey post house wondering where George and the others were, when suddenly George appeared from out the snow that the howling gale was whirling about. My long suspense was ended. The body had been recovered in good condition, George said. Wrapped in the blankets that Hubbard had round him when he died – the blankets he had so gaily presented me with that June morning on the Silvia – and our old tarpaulin, which George had recovered farther back on the trail, it had been dragged on the Indian sled forty miles down over the sleeping Susan River, and thence out over Grand Lake to the Cape Corbeau tilt, where the men had been compelled to leave it the day before owing to the heavy snowstorm that then prevailed. From the tilt the men had gone to to Tom’s house at the rapid to spend the night, and George had now come down to the post to relieve my mind with the news that the body was safe.

It was arranged that the next morning George and Duncan should take the post dogs and komatik, drive up to Cape Corbeau and bring the body down. The morning was calm and fine, and they started early. It was a strange funeral procession that returned. The sun was setting when they passed over the rapid where Hubbard that beautiful July morning had sprung vigorously into the water to track the canoe into Grand Lake. How full of hope and pleasurable anticipation he had been when we paddled through the Little Lake! Over the snow and ice that now hid the lake the seven dogs that were hauling his corpse strained and tugged, ever and anon breaking into a trot as George and Duncan, running on their snow shoes on either side of the komatik, urged them forward with Eskimo exclamations or cracked their long whip over a laggard. No need to urge any one of them on, however, when they came in sight of the post. Darkness was falling. Knowing that their daily meal was near at hand, the dogs broke into a run, and with much howling and jumping swung around the point and up to the buildings.”

To be continued.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Joel Thomas Hynes, narrator of several Rattling Books audiobook recordings, wins BMO Winterset Award

Joel Thomas Hynes is on a streak, yesterday having won the BMO Winterset Award with his latest novel We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds some Night.

 In his acceptance speech he acknowledged earlier financial help from Arts NL.

“This book, for me, was a long journey. Getting it published, even. After having four or five books out, you’d think it would be easier, but I had to fight to get this book published,” Hynes told the Winterset ceremony attendees. “It seems like when everyone else was against this book, the arts council was for this book, and I owe a debt of gratitude to the arts council for financing aspects of the writing of this book. If not, I don’t know, I would have had to go on to do something else.”

You can hear Joel reading his own work and that of others on the following Rattling Books audiobook recordings:
Down to the Dirt by Joel Thomas Hynes, narrated by Joel Thomas Hynes
Asking Jesus to Dance by Susan Rendell, narrated by Joel Thomas Hynes
Light Years by Susan Rendell, narrated by Joel Thomas Hynes 

(Availabe as Short Fiction Singles or as part of In the Chambers of the Sea  the collection of short fiction by Susan Rendell.)

Say Nothing Saw Wood by Joel Thomas Hynes, narrated by Joel Thomas Hynes

Availabe as a Short Fiction Single or as part of the Anthology EarLit Shorts 1.)

Michael and Jesus by Catherine Hogan Safer, narrated by Joel Thomas Hynes

(Availabe as a Short Fiction Single or as part of the Anthology EarLit Shorts 2

Slip by Michael Collins, narrated by Joel Thomas Hynes

(Availabe as a Short Fiction Single or as part of the Anthology EarLit Shorts 3

Cycle by Leslie Vryenhoek, narrated by Joel Thomas Hynes
(Availabe as a Short Fiction Single or as part of the Anthology EarLit Shorts 4)

The above Canadian audiobook recordings brought to you by Rattling Books of Newfoundland and Labrador.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Excerpt: The Last Voyage of the Karluk by Captain Bob Bartlett, setting: March 12, 1914

In this excerpt we continue The Last Voyage of the Karluk: An Epic of Death and Survival in the Arctic, 1913-1916 as related by her captain, Robert A. Bartlett and here set down by Ralph T. Hale (published in 1916 by Small, Maynard and Company, Inc.; unabridged audiobook edition narrated by Frank Holden published by Rattling Books).

“March 12 we got away again at dawn. McKinlay, Mamen, Kataktovick, Kerdrillo, and his family and I went ahead of the others, with lightly loaded sledges, and, on account of improved ice conditions, made such good progress that at one P.M. we landed on Icy Spit, on the northeast side of Wrangell Island. It is perhaps easier to imagine than to describe our feelings of relief at being once again on terra firma, after two months of drifting and traveling on the ice. We had had a hard road to travel much of the way from Shipwreck Camp, but fortunately, since the big storm in the days following the departure of the advance party, we had had continuously fine weather, with good daylight and exhilarating temperatures in the minus forties and fifties.

As soon as we landed we began building an igloo. There was plenty of driftwood scattered all about and Keruk gathered up a lot of it and built a fire, so that by the time the first of our three igloos was built she had some tea for us and the rest of the party who, coming along easily with light loads over our trail, arrived an hour and a half after we did. We were overjoyed to find the driftwood for, although we were pretty sure of finding it, yet we were a little dubious and it was a great relief to my mind to know that fuel was assured.

We could see a good deal of the island from the spit, which made out from land some distance into the ocean. Waring Point lay far to the east of us and Evans Point to the west. The geographical names on Wrangell Island were derived from the names of the officers of the U.S.S. Rodgers who explored the island in 1881. On a clear day like this it was not unusual to be able to see for seventy miles. The northeast side of the island, on which we now were, sent several low sandy spits out from the land, thus forming lagoons which of course were covered with ice. Near the coast were low mountains and valleys, with higher peaks in the interior beyond. Here and there on the beach were dead trees that had drifted ashore, with the roots sticking up into the air; we also found planks and other lumber. Everything was snow clad and white, only a degree less cheerless than the frozen ocean itself.

The next day Munro, Chafe, Breddy and Williams went back with all the dogs and sledges to the last camp on the ice, fifteen miles from our landing-place, and brought in all the supplies we had left there. While they were gone I sent Kerdrillo nine miles across the lagoon to Berry Spit, to see if he could find any traces of the mate’s party or the Mackay party. He took his rifle with him to look for game. When he came back at nightfall, he reported that he had seen no traces of either party and only one bear track and one fox track. This was an indication that there was small chance of getting a bear on or near the island, because there were no seal holes within twenty-five miles from land; we had seen some near the big rafter, about forty miles out. Later in the season, as the ice broke up nearer the land, the seal would work in shore and of course the bears would follow. I asked Kerdrillo what he thought the chances were of there being any caribou or reindeer on the island. It is not an uncommon thing to find caribou on islands in Hudson Strait, which have drifted on the ice from the mainland, and there were, I knew, both these animals in plenty on the Siberian coast. I wondered, too, whether there might not be Arctic hare on the island. Kerdrillo said he thought there was so much snow that caribou and reindeer would be unlikely to staty where it would be so difficult for them to get food and he did not believe any were to be found.

The next day, to verify his opinion, I sent him out again, giving him tea and pemmican, so that he could have a full day’s march and make a reconnaissance into the interior. About dark he returned and reported that he had seen no traces of caribou, reindeer or hare and very few signs of foxes. Later on , however, h thought ptarmigan would visit the island. He had seen one bear track, which he thought was about three days old, probably of the bear whose tracks he had seen on the previous day.

The story is told of a student who, when asked to name five Arctic animals, replied, “Three polar bears and two seal.” If these varieties were to be all we should find on Wrangell island, we should still be able to sustain life, if only we could get enough of them. I should have liked, however, to know that caribou and reindeer, too, could be had for the shooting.

We now made a snow shelter and started in on the fourteenth to dry out our boots and stockings; we had plenty of firewood. Keruk looked after this work. Maurer’s and Malloch’s feet still troubled them and Mamen’s knee was a constant cause of suffering, so that I was glad that they could now have an opportunity to rest. From the moment of our departure from Shipwreck Camp we had been constantly on the move during every minute of the daylight. The weather, though cold, had been exceptionally fine and clear; in fact we had not lost an hour on account of bad weather and had been inconvenienced for only one night by open water. As a consequence all hands were in need of a little rest. The dogs, too, were in a reduced condition, for though they had had plenty to eat they had worked very hard and I wanted them to get what rest they could.”

To be continued.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

New SoundCloud Listening sample clip set in Fogo, from Coasting Trade by Robin McGrath

New Listening Sample from Coasting Trade by Robin McGrath posted on SoundCloud: sample set in Fogo

Coasting Trade by Robin McGrath
An Audio Book Performance for Three Voices
Narrated by Robert Joy, Rick Boland and Anita Best
Produced by Chris Brookes

Coasting Trade follows the voyage of a Yankee trading schooner circumnavigating the island of Newfoundland, with navigation notes adapted from Sailing Directions for the Island and Banks of Newfoundland by J.S. Hobbes (1865). 

This audiobook recording brought to you by Rattling Books

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Excerpt: "The Lure of the Labrador Wild" by Dillon Wallace, setting: mid March 1904

The following excerpt is from Dillon Wallace's classic story of the fateful canoe trip which Wallace, Leonidas Hubbard and George Elson made into the interior of Labrador in 1903 (The Lure of the Labrador Wild originally published in 1905 by Fleming H. Revell, New York) . In 2005 Rattling Books released an unabridged audiobook edition of The Lure of the Labrador Wild narrated by Jody Richardson.
Douglas's story made it plain that the weather conditions on Grand Lake had been fierce enough to appal any man, but as there had been no snow since Friday night I could not understand what Tom was doing at the rapid on Sunday, and with Mackenzie's consent I had Mark immediately harness the post dogs and drive me up to his house. I arrived there considerably incensed by his inactivity, but I must say that his explanation was adequate. He asked me if I had been able to see anything of Grand Lake, and made me realise what it meant to be out there with a high west wind of Arctic bitterness drifting the snow in great clouds down its thirty-seven miles of unbroken expanse. There was no doubt that the men had done the best they could, and after instructing Tom that, if more provisions were needed, to obtain them at Donald's at my expense, and receiving from him an assurance that he would again start for Hubbard's body as soon as the weather would permit, I returned, mollified, to the post.
It was on this day (Sunday, March 13th) that I received my first news from home and the outside world, Monsieur Duclos, who had been on a trip north, bringing me two telegrams from New York. They conveyed to me the comforting assurance that all was well at home, being replies to the dispatches I had sent in December. Received at Chateau Bay, they had been forwarded to me three hundred and fifty miles by dog teams and snowshoe travellers.
Tom Blake started on Monday morning, the 14th, and Tuesday at noon joined George and Duncan at Donald's. On Wednesday the three men began their march up the Susan. The weather continuing fair, they made good progress and had no difficulty in finding the site of our last camp. Hubbard's body, with the tent lying flat on top of it, was under eight feet of snow. Near the spot a wolverine had been prowling, but the body was too deeply buried for any animal to scent it, and in its quiet resting place it lay undisturbed. It was fortunate that it had not been placed on a stage, as I had suggested; for in that event it would undoubtedly have been destroyed.
Continuing on inland, the men recovered the photographic films, the sextant, my fishing rod, and other odds and ends we had dropped on the trail as far back as Lake Elson. Tom and Duncan praised George unstintingly for the unvarying accuracy with which he located the things. With the country and smaller trees buried under a great depth of snow, and no landmarks to guide him, George would lead the other men on, and, with no searching about or hesitancy, stop and say, "We'll dig here." And not once did his remarkable instinct play him false.
"Tis sure wonderful," said Tom, in telling me about it. "I ne'er could ha' done it, an' no man on Th' Labrador could ha' done it, sir. Not even th' Mountaineers could ha' done it." And Duncan seconded Tom's opinion.
(To be continued. )

Monday, March 19, 2018

Excerpt: The Last Voyage of the Karluk by Captain Bob Bartlett, setting: March 10 (ish), 1914

In this excerpt we continue The Last Voyage of the Karluk An Epic of Death and Survival in the Arctic, 1913-1916 as related by her captain, Robert A. Bartlett and here set down by Ralph T. Hale (published in 1916 by Small, Maynard and Company, Inc.; unabridged audiobook edition narrated by Frank Holden published by Rattling Books).


The next morning, therefore, I sent McKinlay, Hadley and Mamen back to bring up the bear meat. The rest of us sledged supplies along the shoreward way, Kataktovick and I walking on ahead to blaze the trail. We had a continuation of the fine weather and low temperature. I suppose it was about forty or fifty below zero. We sledged a good part of the supplies along to the new camp on the big floe and built igloos there. The next day we continued the work, Kataktovick picking the trail. At first it was rough going but after a time it became a little better and we moved all our supplies ten miles nearer the land, returning to the igloos on the big floe for the night. We found that at one of the temporary caches along the way two bears had destroyed a case of coal oil and scattered two tins of biscuit over the ice.
It was hard luck, after getting the oil so near the island, to have bears to contend with in addition to the elements, especially as our dogs were not trained to follow a bear, so that there was no use trying to go after them. A polar bear has a very acute sense of smell and can scent a human being in plenty of time to get away from him, and as a bear can go faster than a man it can escape easily, unless the hunter has dogs trained from puppyhood to follow a bear and round him up, the way the dogs of Greenland can do. Of the bears that the McKinlay party shot the meat was simply cut off the bones, to have no useless weight to carry and some of if was cached on the ice, with the skins, and the rest brought with us. We expected to be able to get it later on but never did because we did not go back over the trail again, and we expected to get more bears on our way to the island.

On the tenth we kept up the task of sledging the supplies forward. We worked from daylight to dark, some with pickaxes, others with sledges with light loads, for the going was rough. The Eskimo built the igloos and by night we had all our supplies up, Munro, Mamen and myself getting in with the last load just at dark.

The going was was bad nearly all the way along here. Kataktovick and I were off at the first crack of dawn picking the trail for the others to follow with their pickaxes and their lightly loaded sledges. It was necessary for us to make fairly good loads, for a white man can not handle a sledge as deftly as an Eskimo can and we had not enough Eskimo to drive all the sledges even if they had been free from the work of trail-making and building igloos.

We made about seven miles during the day. Sometimes we had to get the sledges up on a ridge fifty feet high with an almost sheer drop on the other side. When we came to such rough places we would harness all the dogs to a sledge and all of us who could get a hand on it would help push the sledge. When we got the sledge up to the top we would run a rope from it to another sledge down below and as the first sledge went down the other side it would pull the second sledge up.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Rattling Books logo

The Rattling Books logo is a Razorbill (Alca torda) wearing headphones.

Razorbills are North Atlantic seabirds. Included among their breeding sites are the islands off Tors Cove, home to Rattling Books. Their vocalization is a guttural rattling sound.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

New SoundCloud audiobook listening sample posted: Below the Bridge by Helen Fogwill Porter, read by Mary Barry

New SoundCloud audiobook listening sample posted:   

Below the Bridge 
by Helen Fogwill Porter
read by Mary Barry

Listen to a sample from Below the Bridge featuring the memories of Helen Porter of growing up on the south side of St. John's, Newfoundland.

To purchase a digital download of Below the Bridge (30% off until March 20) .

This audiobook recording brought to you by Rattling Books.

New SoundCloud listening sample post: The Stylist, a short story by Lisa Moore, read by Holly Hogan

New SoundCloud listening sample post: The Stylist, a short story by Lisa Moore, read by Holly Hogan. 

The Stylist appears in the short fiction collection by Lisa Moore entitled Open.  Available online as a digital download, or as an MP3 CD from Fred's Records in St. John's Newfoundland.

This Canadian audiobook recording brought to you by Rattling Books.

Friday, March 16, 2018

New SoundCloud Post: Clip from "My Future in Insurance" by Richard Cumyn read by Charlie Tomlinson

My Future in Insurance
a short story by Richard Cumyn
narrated by Charlie Tomlinson

My Future in Insurance appears in the short fiction audiobook anthology EarLit Shorts 3 from Rattling Books. It is available as a short fiction single digital download all by itself or as part of the full anthology.  The anthology is also available in MP3 CD format.

Literature to listen to, from Rattling Books.

Excerpt: The Last Voyage of the Karluk by Captain Robert Bartlett (setting: March 5-9 1914)

The following excerpt is from The Last Voyage of the Karluk An Epic of Death and Survival in the Arctic, 1913-1916 as related by her captain, Robert A. Bartlett and here set down by Ralph T. Hale (published in 1916 by Small, Maynard and Company, Inc.; unabridged audiobook edition narrated by Frank Holden published by Rattling Books).

March 4, at about four P.M., we finished working through the rafter and came out on the smoother ice on its landward side. Mamen, Kataktovick and I spent the day sledging supplies across from the camp on the farther side and when the road was finished we all went back for the last load. It was not until eight P.M. that we had all our supplies at the new camp and we had to do the last of the work in the dark; the Eskimo had built three igloos while we were sledging. It had taken us four days to get across a distance of three miles. From the shore side it was easy to see the basis of the formation of such rafters. A storm causes the moving ice to smash against and slide over the still ice and the pressure of the “irresistible force meeting the immovable body” throws the ice into fantastic, mountainous formations that are as weird as that astounding picture of Chaos before the Creation that used to ornament the first volume of Ridpath’s “History of the World.”

At daylight on March 5 I sent Munro and a party back across the three miles of raftered ice to meet the McKinlay party who were about due back from Shipwreck Camp. Munro and the others could guide and help them across the difficult road we had made. While they were gone I took Kataktovick and laid out a trail towards the land for the next day’s march. Now for the first time since we left Shipwreck Camp, we got a view of Wrangell Island; it was high and we seemed almost under it. The air was exceptionally clear and the land looked close to us.

Munro and his party did not get back until long after dark. They had reached our last camp across the raftered ice and not finding McKinlay and the others there had continued on the back trail, hoping to meet them. They went on as far as they could go without being compelled to stay out all night, and then came back, because they had no sleeping-robes and would have had a poor night of it, besides being obliged to build an igloo. They were wise in knowing when they had gone far enough; Munro showed his usual good judgment.

Our progress in to the island was retarded by the necessity of keeping along with us as large a quantity of supplies as possible. This meant relaying supplies, because the going was bad and made sledging difficult, with the small number of dogs we had. On the sixth, as soon as the first streak of light appeared, I sent Munro and his party back again to meet the McKinlay party, while I took Kataktovick and Kerdrillo and went ahead towards the island, road-making with our pickaxes. Munro had told me that when he first saw the three mile belt of raftered ice, he never thought for a moment that we should ever get through it. Any novice certainly had a right to feel discouraged; it was as tough a job as I ever tackled. We now picked our way – I might almost say pick-axed our way – across the ice from our last camp for a distance of seven miles until we came to a large, heavy floe, which would make a good place for a new camp; here we threw off the light loads which we had brought on two of the Peary sledges and returned to camp. At half past four the McKinlay party came in, convoyed by Munro and his party. McKinlay and his companions had gone clear back to Shipwreck Camp and brought in six cases of dog pemmican, sixteen cases of Hudson’s Bay pemmican, thirty gallons of gasoline, and some hatchets and snow-knives. They had left at the first camp from Shipwreck Camp four cases of Underwood dog pemmican and ten tins of Hudson’s Bay pemmican, for they already had too heavy loads to bring them.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Middle March 30% off Sale on all Rattling Books March 10 - 20

Middle March Sale at Rattling Books!

I am reading Middlemarch by George Eliot and loving it.

To celebrate Rattling Books is hosting a Middle March Sale on all Rattling Books from March 10 - March 20.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Early March 1903, from "The Lure of the Labrador Wild" by Dillon Wallace

The following excerpt is from Dillon Wallace's classic story of the fateful canoe trip which Wallace, Leonidas Hubbard and George Elson made into the interior of Labrador in 1903 (The Lure of the Labrador Wild originally published in 1905 by Fleming H. Revell, New York) .

Rattling Books produced a digitally downloadable unabridged audiobook edition of The Lure of the Labrador Wild narrated by Jody Richardson.

Early in February the doctor said I might try my feet on the floor. The result was the discovery that my knees would not bear me, and that I should have to learn to walk all over again. Recovering the use of my legs was a tedious job, and it was not until February 29th that I was able to return to Northwest River. After leaving Kenemish I never saw the unfortunate young doctor again; for he died on March 22nd.

Back at Northwest River I was able to stir things up a bit, and bright and early on Tuesday morning, March 8th, George, Tom Blake, and Duncan MacLean, composing the expedition that was to recover Hubbard's body, at last left the post, prepared for their difficult journey into the interior. I regretted much that my physical condition made it impossible for me to accompany them. Their provisions were packed on an Indian flat sled or toboggan, and their tent and other camp equipment on a sled with broad flat runners that I had obtained especially for the transportation of the body from some Indians that visited the post. At the rapid they were to get Tom Blake's dogs to haul their loads to Donald Blake's at the other end of Grand Lake. After that, the hauling was all to be done by hand, as it is quite impossible to use dogs in cross-country travelling in Labrador.

In the course of the afernoon snow squalls developed, and all day Wednesday and Thursday the snow fell heavily. I knew the storm would interfere with the progress of the men, but I hoped they had succeeded in reaching Donald's, and were at that point holding themselves in readiness to proceed. What was my disappointment, then, when towards noon on Sunday Douglas and Henry Blake, Tom's two young sons, came to the post to announce that their father was at home! He had made a start up Grand Lake, they said , but the storms had not permitted the party to advance any farther than the Cape Corbeau tilt.

Douglas had accompanied the men to Cape Corbeau, which point it had taken an entire day to reach, as the dogs, even with the men on their snowshoes tramping a path ahead, sank so deeply in the snow that they could hardly flounder along, to say nothing of hauling a load. it was evident, therefore, that the dogs would retard rather than accelerate the progress of the party on Grand Lake, and when the Cape Corbeau tilt was reached on Tuesday night it was decided that Douglas should take them back to the rapid. On Wednesday morning the storm was raging so fiercely that it was considered unsafe to go ahead for the present. George, moreover, complained of a lame ankle, and said he required a rest. So Tom came to the conclusion that if he remained at the tilt he would be eating the "stock of grub" to no purpose, and when Douglas turned homeward with the dogs he went with him. George and Duncan were to stay at the tilt until the travelling became better, Douglas said, and then push on to Donald's and wait for Tom there.
To be continued.

Monday, March 05, 2018

New SoundCloud Post: Clip from Judge Prowse Presiding by Frank Holden

If you've ever searched for choice words to call someone you are displeased with, look no further. This SoundCloud listening clip from Judge Prowse Presiding by Frank Holden features a lesson in vernacular name calling.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Excerpt: Vikings of the Ice by George Allan England (excerpt#2)

The unabridged audiobook edition of Vikings of the Ice narrated by Frank Holden is available online from Rattling Books or as a mail order MP3 CD .

On my northward trek aboard the Rosalind I acquired a little advance information about seal hunting that just a trifle moderated my ideas concerning brass buttons and smart little staterooms.

"Not much real danger of your ship sinking in the ice a few hundred miles from land," a St. John's merchant explained, "though once in a way it does happen. The sealing ships are built of greenheart and oak, to meet the ice pressures. Of course, " he sank the barb, "we've had some pretty appalling disasters. Sometimes sudden blizzards catch the men on ice, far from the ships, and wipe them out by the dozen and the score. I should advise you not to wander more than two or three miles from the Terra Nova, especially if the barometer's down."

"Oh, I don't think I will - not over three or four miles, anyhow," I hastened to reassure him.

"Well, then, the chances are you'll come through alive. That is, if your ship doesn't burn or blow up. Seal fat is enormously inflammable, and the men are wonderful careless with fire and blasting powder. As a fact, not one of our sealing ships is fit to go to the icefields. They're all worn out. The Terra Nova was condemned years ago. I've heard it said that a good strong man with a pair of stout boots could kick a hole in her boilers anywhere. Still, I don't want to make you worry."

"Certainly not!" I agreed, relighting my pipe, which had gone out.

"As for the men - oh, you'll get along with them all right. Rough? Well, rather! But treat them free and easy and call them 'Uncle,' and you'll have no trouble. A hard crowd, that! Most of them never wash or shave, on the sealing racket. They butcher all day and come in off the ice a reek of blood and grease; but you won't mind that. Dirt doesn't hurt them and neither does hardship. Why, they're half seals themselves! They'd die with decent treatment. The tough trip just fattens them. They come back with hides four inches thick - and so will you!"

Thus indeed it befell. I did!

The next Newfoundlander to encourage me - a carpenter - had been sealing many years.

"Goin' swilin', is ye, sir?" he asked. "Me dear man! Ye'll be rale hearty. If y'r luck's in, ye'll take no harm. I was on de Florizel, time she an' ninety-four men was lost. 'Tis a wonnderful fine racket. I'd like to be goin' in collar meself, agin, wid me rope an' gaff an' sculpin' knife! I'd like to year de ole cry: 'Starburd over!' an' year dem whitecoats bawlin'. I would, so."


And so continues the beginning of George Allan England's tale of sailing to the ice with Captain Abram Kean on the Terra Nova in 1922.

Vikings of the Ice, being the log of a Tenderfoot on the Great Newfoundland Seal Hunt was published in 1924 by Doubleday.

The unabridged audiobook edition of Vikings of the Ice narrated by Frank Holden is available online from Rattling Books and in downtown St. John's Newfoundland or as a mail order MP3 CD .

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

George Elliott Clarke giving 50th Annual Pratt Lecture March 8

The 50th Annual Pratt Lecture

Thursday, March 8, 8-10 p.m.
LSPU Hall 
George Elliott Clarke is an author of unparalleled versatility, writing highly regarded fiction, drama, poetry, and criticism. His poetry collections include Whylah FallsCanticles I and II, and Execution Poems, for which he won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 2002. He is the author of two novels, George and Rue and The Motorcyclist. His plays include Beatrice Chancyand Trudeau: Long March, Shining Path. He has broken new ground in Canadian literary studies with his analyses of African-Canadian literature. An Officer of the Order of Canada, in 2017 he served as the Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate.
In recognition of the fiftieth anniversary of the Pratt Lecture, Clarke will be reconsidering E. J. Pratt’s Towards the Last Spike (1953) and Br├ębeuf and His Brethren (1940), two presumptive epics that are “weakened by [Pratt’s] essential promulgation of implicit and explicit racialism, which is also reflective of the impossibility of an ethically ‘ethnic,’ Canadian identity.”
All are welcome. There will be a reception following the event, with a cash bar. Admission is free.
The Pratt Lecture is the oldest public lecture at Memorial University. Past lecturers include Dionne Brand, Northrop Frye, Terry Eagleton, Ursula LeGuin, Alberto Manguel, and Anne Carson.
Presented by Department of English, Office of the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences

An abbreviated Time line of the Life and Accomplishments of Sir Wilfred Grenfell

The Following Chronological List of events and accomplishments in the life of Sir Wilfred Grenfell is reproduced from the Grenfell Historic Properties Site (* addition by Rattling Books):

1865 Wilfred Thomason Grenfell born in Parkgate, England, February 28.
1883 Enters medical school at the London Hospital.
1885 Inspired by evangelist Dwight Moody to do God's work.
1886 Becomes a medical doctor and joins the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen.
1892 Comes to investigate the condition of the fishermen on the Labrador coast.
1893 Builds first hospital at Battle Harbour, Labrador.
1894 Grenfell Labrador Medical Mission formed.
1896 Makes first lecture tour of U.S.A.; starts Red Bay. Co-operative
1900 Chooses St. Anthony as headquarters for Grenfell Mission; acquires first hospital ship, Strathcona I.
1901Establishes co-operative lumber mill at Roddickton.
1905 Starts orphanage in St. Anthony; Andrew Carnegie donates travelling library.
1906 Start of Grenfell Industrial Department.
1907 The Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George presented to Dr. Grenfell. Formation of Grenfell Association of America and Grenfell Association of New England.
1908 Brings reindeer to Newfoundland from Lapland; adrift on an icepan, Easter Sunday, April 21.
1909 Establishes non-denominational school at St. Anthony; marries Anne Elizabeth Caldwell MacClanahan on November 18.
1910 Birth of son, Wilfred Thomason, Jr.
1912 Formation of International Grenfell Association; birth of son Kinloch Pascoe.
1917 Birth of daughter, Rosamond Loveday.
1921 Builds brick orphanage at St. Anthony.
1926 Formation of Grenfell Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; Grenfell has first heart attack.
1927 Knight Commander of The Order of St. Michael and St. George presented to Dr. Grenfell. New hospital at St. Anthony opens.
1928 Construction of marine slipway and dry dock in St. Anthony.
1929 Grenfell has second heart attack.
1931 Forbes-Grenfell expedition to chart entire Labrador coast
1937 Grenfell retires as Superintendent.
1938 Lady Grenfell dies.
1940 Dr. Grenfell dies.
1978 Formation of Grenfell Historical Society.
1981 Grenfell Regional Health Services established.
1992 The Grenfell Centennial.
1998 Completion of the Grenfell Masterplan.

Unabridged audiobook edition of Adrift on an Ice Pan narrated and produced by Chris Brookes with Jay Roberts and Janis Spence (Rattling Books) is available as Digital Download.

Short Bio of Wilfred Grenfell from Canadian Encylopedia

Grenfell, Sir Wilfred Thomason
Medical Missionary (b at Parkgate, Eng 28 Feb 1865; d at Charlotte, Vt 9 Oct 1940)

The following short bio by TERENCE MACARTNEY-FILGATE is found in the Canadian Encyclopedia:

"Grenfell, Sir Wilfred Thomason, medical missionary (b at Parkgate, Eng 28 Feb 1865; d at Charlotte, Vt 9 Oct 1940). Grenfell entered the London Medical School in 1883 and 2 years later was converted to active CHRISTIANITY at a tent meeting of American evangelist Dwight L. Moody. In 1888 he followed the suggestion of one of his teachers, Sir Frederick Treves, that he join the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. He was made superintendent in 1889 and for 3 months in 1892, at the mission's request, cruised the Newfoundland and Labrador coast where 30,000 stationers, 3300 "livyers" (permanent settlers) and 1700 Inuit received only an annual visit from one government doctor. Grenfell treated 900 patients and saw a great opportunity for medical and missionary work. He raised funds to open the first hospital at Battle Harbour in 1893. Grenfell was a forceful speaker and easily gained the friendship of influential men. His medical mission grew rapidly with hospital, orphanage and nursing stations and the first co-operatives in Newfoundland. Grenfell did not winter in the North until 1899 and spent comparatively few winters there, establishing his headquarters at ST ANTHONY, Nfld. A prolific writer and forceful publicist, he often used artistic licence in accounts of life on the northern coasts. His main financial support came from the US. In 1909 he married a Chicago heiress, Anne MacClanahan, who took him away from life on the coast. Growing friction with the mission eventually led to a split, and the International Grenfell Assn was incorporated in 1912. The practical medical work of the IGA was carried on by dedicated if autocratic doctors, while Grenfell became increasingly involved in fund raising. He was made CMG in 1906 and KCMG in 1927, the year in which he retired to Vermont. Famous in his lifetime, he is now largely forgotten; his papers are in the Yale medical history library."

The unabridged audiobook edition of Adrift on an Ice Pan by Wilfred Grenfell is available as a digital download online from Rattling Books.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Wilfred Grenfell Birthday Special

February 28th is Wilfred Grenfell's Birthday &
Rattling Books is celebrating with a Special.

30% off Adrift on an Ice Pan audiobook Download

1 Day only  (from now until midnight February 28)

How does a man save his own life? In 1908 Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, a medical missionary in northern Newfoundland, was traveling by dog team to treat a patient. In his haste Grenfell took a short cut across the sea ice. A change of wind and ice conditions left the doctor and his sled dogs stranded on an ice pan, their komatik and provisions lost. Grenfell came close to perishing.

Adrift on an Ice Pan is Grenfell’s own account of this near-fatal misadventure. He survived dauntingly cold and seemingly hopeless conditions through an inventive presence of mind and by sacrificing and skinning three of his sled dogs to clothe himself against the elements. Because of his tenacity and quick thinking and that of his rescuers, Grenfell endured.

If you like arctic or outdoor adventure stories or are on the look out for winter survival tips you'll enjoy the blow by blow of Grenfell's tale.

To the memory of Grenfell’s rescuers George Davis, George Andrews, George Reid and Mr. Reid’s two sons. And to Moodie, Watch and Spy whose lives were given for Grenfell’s April 21, 1908.

The unabridged audiobook edition of Adrift on an Ice Pan was recorded and produced for Rattling Books by Chris Brookes.
Read by the following (in order of duration): Chris Brookes as Wilfred Grenfell, Jay Roberts as George Andrews, Janis Spence additional narration and acting direction

Friday, February 23, 2018

Dictionary of Newfoundland English : Marl and variant in poem by Mary Dalton

Today is another one of those winter days on the Avalon when picking frozen cranberries is thinkable.  But thoughts of picking berries in summer are always more attractive.

The following entry is from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English :

marl* v To stroll, meander. P 37 ~ to walk around aimlessly. P 104-58 I thought I'd marl along to see you. P 71-64 He's always marreling down the road somewhere. C 69-17 1 had to marl down here [to school] this marnin' and now I got to traipse back.

marl v (supp) 1983 DAWE & FICKEN 10 While others are busy/Mending their twine,/He marls by the store-loft/Like one of a kind.

A variation of the above appears in the poem Berry Pails by Mary Dalton in Merrybegot, a collection of poems by Mary Dalton, the audiobook edition of which was narrated by Anita Best with Patrick Boyle on trumpet and flugelhorn, published by Rattling Books .

Berry Pails

Gadabouts, those young ladyios -
The house in slings and
The whole works of them
Are gone in back, in on the Runs -
All the way in to Skibbereen.
I'll guarantee they'd better
Marley back here with berry pails
Blue to the brim - else
There won't be a pick in the house
This night of Our Lord
And what they'll be after filling up on
Is a feed of tongues.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

BMO Winterset Award Finalists include Joel Thomas Hynes

ArtsNL has announced the finalists for the 2017 BMO Winterset Award. - Submitted
Finalists announced for the 2017 BMO Winterset Award:

Bridget Canning 
“The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes”, Breakwater Books, St. John’s

Joel Thomas Hynes 
“We’ll All Be Burnt In Our Beds Some Night”, Harper Perennial, imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto

Wayne Johnston 
“First Snow, Last Light”, Alfred A. Knopf Canada, imprint of Penguin Random House Ltd.,Toronto.

Finalists will read from their works and answer questions from the audience at a public reading and reception at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 21 at The Rooms in St. John’s.

Joel Thomas Hynes is the author of two works of fiction which he recorded with Rattling Books: Down to the Dirt and Say Nothing, Saw Wood.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Ocean Ranger, Stuart Pierson and Ron Hynes

As Stuart Pierson put it,

"...mid-February, 1982, when it was borne in upon us that a "rig" called Ocean Ranger had succumbed to a savage Atlantic storm, had capsized and sunk on the Grand Banks. All "hands" lost, one hundred sixty-eight of them belonging to eighty-four men (there were no women on board), employees of Mobil Oil through its subsidiary ODECO."

So starts the last section of a long essay by Stuart Pierson entitled Medieval Survivals: Reflections on Ron Hynes's cryer's paradise - the final section, dealing with a song Hyne's wrote in respone to the sinking of the Ocean Ranger and the loss of those one hundred sixty-eight hands.

Memorial University of Newfoundland's Public Orator Shane O'Dea referred to the same song, Atlantic Blue when the University paid tribute to Ron Hynes with the degree of doctor of letters, (honoris causa),

"His most haunting song ... the song of the Ocean Ranger disaster. As subtle a song as ever came from this land, it moves through a series of unanswerable questions ... to convey the desolation of that eternally-Valentineless day."

To quote the ending of Stuart Pierson's essay:

"Hynes pared this song down to its starkest possible minimum. A time comes to tell the truth, to understate, to use short words.

Is that you Atlantic Blue?
My heart is as cold as you. "

Hard-Headed and Big-Hearted: Writing Newfoundland by Stuart Pierson, edited by Stan Dragland (2006) is published by Pennywell Books, St. John's, Newfoundland.

Atlantic Blue by Ron Hynes appears on his album cryer's paradise.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Hear Deidre Gillard-Rowlings read a love poem to Jiggs' Dinner by Michael Crummey

As we get closer to Valentine's Day let's not get too close to our own kind just yet.

Hear Deidre Gillard-Rowlings reading Jiggs' Dinner by Michael Crummey from his Rattling Books CD Hard Light: 32 Little Stories, narrated by Michael Crummey, Ron Hynes and Deidre Gillard-Rowlings.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Excerpt: Vikings of the Ice, being the log of a Tenderfoot on the Great Newfoundland Seal Hunt by George Allan England


St. John's, Nf.,
Feb. 9, 1922

Sealing trip arranged on Terra Nova with famous sealing captain. No passenger accommodations. You will be quartered with three junior officers. Be prepared to rough it.


This telegram of good hap put a spur to my preparations and set me packing my warmest kit. It arrived as the climax to long negotiations, for this matter of getting permission to go out with the sealers of the Newfoundland fleet had been rather a business.

Observers and writers are not wanted by the seal hunters. Nobody is wanted among those men of bood and iron, in those far and frozen vacancies - nobody who cannot actively take part in the Saga of Slaughter.

"Three junior officers" sounded encouraging. The words seemed to couple with brass buttons and a smart little stateroom.


And so begins George Allan England's tale of sailing to the ice with Captain Abram Kean on the Terra Nova in 1922. Vikings of the Ice, being the log of a Tenderfoot on the Great Newfoundland Seal Hunt was published in 1924 by Doubleday.
The unabridged audio edition of Vikings of the Ice narrated by Frank Holden is brought to you by Rattling Books.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

New Listening Clip posted to SoundCloud from EarLit Shorts 2

They are Married, a short story by Claire Wilkshire

Another Canadian audiobook short fiction single from Rattling Books