Jul 16, 2011

Miss Hobbema Pageant

WP Kinsella is mostly famous for his novel Shoeless Joe, the book on which the Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams is based. To me though, he is one of those very funny prairie writers who can see the funny in any situation, like the gifted Martyn Godfrey.

The Miss Hobbema Pageant is one of numerous short story collections that Kinsella wrote about Silas Ermineskin, Frankie Fencepost, and other characters from the Ermineskin reserve outside Hobbema, Alberta. It's the 6th of 8 books、but easy to jump into even without reading the rest.

Silas is the narrator of this book, and he's a jack of all trades. He gets into all sorts of scrapes with his best friend Frankie Fencepost, who seems to be lacking in any sort of inhibition. Silas is a published writer, a student, an assistant medicine man, and a confidante to many of the rich characters that populate the reserve.

The Miss Hobbema Pageant is funny. Many of the laughs come from Frankie's escapades, like joining the Miss Hobbema Pageant, but so many more come from the droll observations of Silas. The people who surround Silas are all true characters, from his siblings and no-nonsense mother to the people at his school in Wetaskiwin. Kinsella's book is full of imagery, and even though it's been over a decade since I was anywhere near Hobbema I can bring memories up in a second when I open these pages.

I don't know if any of what Kinsella writes is true to life on the rez. There are such a varied number of characters, from the medicine woman who doesn't take herself too seriously, the ambitious chief, to the strong and patient girlfriends of Silas and Frankie, who could be in any novel about the prairies, and are far from stereotypical. I often wonder what First Nations people think of this book but can't speak to this myself.

What I do know is that this is the only Kinsella book I brought to Japan and now I am kicking myself. This book only whet my appetite for more debacles on the Ermineskin reserve.

Canadian Book Challenge 3/13


  1. One of my "claims" to fame is that I sat next to W.P. Kinsella on an airplane once. I gave him a stick of gum...he only took it because it was non-sugar! I was too embarrassed to tell him that I had read Shoeless Joe as I was currently reading a silly little romance novel. I was on holiday though, sue me!

  2. Ooh so exciting! I always read silly little romance novels. Nothing wrong with that!


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