tofino gardening in november

Road's End - Tales of Tofino

a tofino book 'review' by greg blanchette, tofino

the letter 'P'Pure Hel pitched a throw cushion at the back of Brad's head. He paused the game and pulled off the 'phones. "'Sup?" he said, a splatter of virtual blood frozen across the computer screen in front of him.

"Can you turn it down a little?" Pure Hel said. "Even with the headphones, the gunfire is deafening. I have to finish this and write up a review." She held the book up.

Brad flipped back his long black bangs and looked closer. "Is that Turtle on the cover? Tofino's own Turtle?"
"Yep," Helen said. "It's Shirley Langer's new book, Road's End -- Tales of Tofino."

"Any good?" Brad hadn't read a book in years, but the image of Turtle drew him to the sofa where he piled on, entangled with Pure Hel.

"Yeah, it's a fun read. Shirley's got a knack for digging up good stories and telling them. It's no War and Peace, but it's not meant to be. It's more like a lazy walk around town, bumping into people, overhearing them in a coffee shop. In fact, some of the stories take place in coffee shops."

"Ah, what's there to tell about Tofino besides complaining?" Brad said.

"Turns out there's lots," Helen said. "I learned a few things about my own townsfolk. Plus, there's something weirdly powerful about seeing your own town in print. It makes you think differently about the place. It's not just the publicity, though that's part of it. Much of what Tofino is today happened because since the 1990s a lot of people have sent Tofino stories circulating world-wide.

"But seeing your own town between the covers of a book really does change the way you think about it, and live in it. And visit it, if you don't live here. That's what our Victoria government doesn't get at all. They see art as frivolous, just playing around, as opposed to the 'serious business' of work. They don't understand that people need a feeling for where and how they live. You don't get that from work; you get it from stories, from art."

"Hey, you should put that in the review," Brad said. "My people have only known it for a thousand years." He ruffled some pages. "Probably no Indians in here, eh?"

Pure Hel bopped him one with the book. "Course there are!" she said. "How believable would Tofino tales be without a First Nations presence? Here's one called ..." -- she flipped through the pages -- "... Matthew's Transformative Experience." She read it out loud.
"Yeah, my uncle knows that guy," Brad said. "What else?"
"Well, there's one about a dog and one about a chicken." She consulted the table of contents. "Also beachcombing, latkes (with a recipe), driveways, tsunamis ... character sketches ... plus of course, being Shirley, she goes off on a rant or six."

Brad was intrigued. "Anything racy?" he said, his fingers creeping like a spider up under Pure Hel's sweater. She clamped her free hand down on them and said, "Yes, as a matter of fact. Behave and I'll read West Coast Exotica."
Brad listened to the story with glee. "Ol' lady Langer," he said, "I can just see her in ... whadda ya call it? A crotchless...?"

"That wasn't her, you perv. It's a tale somebody told her. There's twenty in all: some profiles, some little adventures that happened to her, some to other people. She's been compiling this collection for years, chasing the stories down, getting the details right. Sad that she published it the very month she packs up and moves away. I suppose that's quintessential Tofino irony for you."

Brad grabbed the book and flipped through it. "Hey, there's pictures too. That's my kind of book."

"Yes," Helen said, "she got Shannon McWhinney, from Ucluelet, to do up a pen-and-ink drawing for each story. Really catches the tone, don't you think?"

"You know, sweetiecakes," Brad said, the hinting in his voice bright and clear, "I have, uh, an auntie who might want to borrow this book after you're done...."

"Yeah, well you can buy your 'auntie' her own copy," Pure Hel said, grabbing it back. "Get it at Wildside Booksellers or Mermaid Tales Bookshop. Some other bookshops round the island too. Cost you about twenty clams."

"Hey," said Brad, ever helpful, "you should put that in the review too."

Tofitian greg blanchette has a deep, abiding and sometimes skewed interest in all things cultural.
Discombobulate the dude at

Tofino Books

Tofino Time November 2009

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Tofino book review of Shirley Langer's 'Road's End - Tales of Tofino' written by Tofino writer greg blanchette and published in the November 2009 issue of Tofino Time Magazine.

tofino time november 2009