Richard Van Camp’s Angel Wing Splash Pattern is an unforgettable collection of breathtaking, beautiful, hilarious and heartbreaking short stories set in and among the Dogrib and Dene peoples in the wild and harsh remote towns of Northwest Territories. Though each story is vastly different, from a wistful apology letter to an old love, to driving as fast as possible down a notorious stretch of haunted highway, to an elderly medicine man’s final thoughts while people watching in the West Edmonton Mall, each story complements another in a skilfully woven, extremely moving portrait of a world many of us never get to see: that of the rural reservation.
Van Camp, a Dogrib writer who has lived and taught in Vancouver, chooses words carefully to reflect an overall theme of forgiveness, love, and redemption. Each story is strong and powerful enough to stand alone; there is not a weak spot in the book. This is in the running for my favorite book ever, and definitely garners many rereads. The language has a magic to it that is even more powerful when read aloud (as can be seen when searching the first story in the book, “Mermaids,” narrated by Cree actor Ben Cardinal and produced as a radio drama by the CBC). (Submitted by Mandi).