Book review: lying in the grass

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Describing itself as “small in relation to the breadth of its themes,” Trevor Herriot’s book Towards a Prairie Atonement merges the conventions of historical and ecological writing to create a book that insightfully explores both the land and the people of the Canadian Prairies. In this process, Herriot transforms what may seem like a small step – for this book is shorter than my hand – into learning from the Prairie Provinces and turns it into a huge leap in knowledge and appreciation of this area which m ‘touched and, I’m sure, anyone else who ventures into the world of this book.

Toggling between the history of the Prairies and Herriot’s journey to gather this information, Towards a Prairie Atonement pays special attention to wildlife photographers, social activists, landowners, Métis chiefs and many more who have contributed. to the true mosaic of this book. Herriot also emphasizes not only his role in the creation of this book, but also our own role as readers. Unlike the typical order of a book, instead of starting with the first chapter, it rather opens with Herriot’s “Acknowledgments”. In these acknowledgments, Herriot’s first sentence is basically that the book itself – what you feel in your hand, the delicate golden illustration of the author of the prairie grasses that appears on the cover of the book and its size – should help make reading enjoyable. this book. The intentional beauty of this book invites us to revisit the meadows, which can appear simple and impersonal, through new eyes. Each of these thoughtful details has definitely contributed to my interest in this book, and I truly appreciate the effort the author and his editor have put into making this little white paper something special both at the same time. inside and outside.

A book that I jokingly described as an “autobiography of Saskatchewan,” Towards a Prairie Atonement really succeeds in turning the province into something I can understand and engage with, rather than just leaving it. as a point between A and B on a road trip. . It also got me thinking about how little we focus on the Prairies themselves. On television, in books, or in our daily conversations, the stories of the Prairies just aren’t told often. Unlike the popularity of American westerns, the history of settler occupation of the prairies, the language and culture of the Métis people, or the feuds between the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company do not don’t typically leave the college classroom in Canada (with Katherena Vermette’s A Girl Called Echo comic book series being a fantastic exception).

A joy to read and a joy to write, Towards a Prairie Atonement is a delightful guide for history buffs or those with wide eyes to learn more. Including a few blank pages at the end of the book for taking your own field notes, Herriot’s book encourages a loving and insightful engagement with the natural world around us, whether we are on the Prairies or in the Canadian Shield.


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