Part memoir, part travelogue, part meditation on the natural life of the author’s beloved bog, Bog Tender is a passionately thoughtful book. Szanto writes with wonderful lucidity, never leaving the reader, always circling back to the essence of things. Frog lust and stink cabbage. —Susan Crean, author of the award-winning (Hubert Evans, 2001)The Laughing One: A Journey to Emily Carr
Watching his bogland on Gabriola Island as its life revolves around the circuit of seasons has put George Szanto at the perfect vantage point for reflection and storytelling. He delivers both in generous spades of visualization, language, and drama, whether in recalling fishing trips or eye surgery, dreaming the ideal house or bringing a loved parent back to life through reminiscence, watching in gaped-mouth wonder at the antics of birds or digging deep into family photographs. ‘The sections of a house,’ he writes, ‘should recognize and live with each other, bringing a sense of harmony to those inside.’ Just so do the sections of Bog Tender bring a reader to a sense of recognition of the harmony of one writer’s life of relationships. —Myrna Kostash, author of Prodigal Daughter: A Journey to Byzantium
A moving and very thoughtful memoir of George Szanto’s lifelong dance between literature and adventure, wanderlust and home. —Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress
Memory is one of the rare privileges of age. With compassion, wise humour, and a poet’s eye for the telling detail, George Szanto has given us a sort of Pilgrim’s Progress from one man’s intimate story to a dazzling meditation on history and nature. —Alberto Manguel
Exquisitely rendered. —Gabriola Sounder
A delicate, impressionistic memoir, drawing together strands of the past and ongoing present . . . Beautifully written, deeply felt . . . A celebration of finding one’s place in the world. —Times Colonist
Refreshing and satisfying, Bog Tender reveals a writer deep in reflection and quite happy with his lot. —Quill & Quire
Genuinely heartbreaking . . . Vividly described . . . Szanto is acutely, almost painfully, sensitive to the world outside his front door. —National Post
The National Post's story behind the story: George Szanto on Bog Tender
Quill & Quire includes Bog Tender on their Spring preview for 2013.
Lushly rendered. . . . An earthy, homespun and voyeuristically satisfying book. —Kirkus Reviews
Twelve months of natural splendor on Vancouver Island's eastern coast. The stretch of wetlands where novelist and former collegiate professor Szanto (Never Hug a Mugger on Quadra Island, 2011, etc.) has spent the past decade is located on Gabriola, a British Columbian island the size and shape of Manhattan but with only 4,000 residents. From September to August, Szanto offers a lushly rendered, one-year pastoral chronicle of life in and around a marshland bog as observed by a seasoned writer who is both enamored and emotionally buoyed by it. Amid descriptions of the bog's natural beauty and delicate ecology, the author also incorporates personal anecdotes of random eyesight maladies, baking homemade bread, the hoarfrost in winter and salmon fishing in summer. More momentous events follow, such as surviving the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, his courtship of his wife and the deaths of his parents, whose escape from Nazi-occupied Vienna is described in gripping detail. Even richer moments include a touching midwinter dinner gathering with friends who'd all survived life-threatening illnesses. But it's the vibrant, abundant bog just outside his windows that takes center stage as the author delightfully surveys iridescent dragonflies, raccoons and countless bird species. Though the hazards of country living are numerous, they only seem to bring out the author's indefatigable temperament. After a nasty hornet sting that nearly killed him, Szanto resolved to keep the extinguished nest, situated above his front door, "as a war memorial." An earthy, homespun and voyeuristically satisfying book.