August 13, 2013

Thin Air's Summer Reading List: Road Books

By Steve Locke

Last month, in a rare break from the bottleneck chaos of organizing Thin Air, festival publicist Bruce Symaka managed to compile a recommended reading list for your summer reading pleasure. Consisting of twelve authors and poets, consider it a reader’s map for the various events that will take place in September, including plenty of Canadian roadside attractions along the way.

While on one of my own summer road trips, I had the opportunity to stop for a rest and snack on Lewis DeSoto’s latest novel, The Restoration Artist. Coming off the success of A Blade of Grass, which put DeSoto on the international bestseller map, this was certainly one recommendation I thought I should take advantage of.

A story of the rediscovery of the self, hope and art, The Restoration Artist was perfectly suited to my seasonal state of wistful contemplation and movement, even in its darkest moments. DeSoto’s lead, Leo Millar, is a painter who has lost everything, a character and narrative that parallels the author’s own personal experience. Searching for hope, or at least some inspiration on a quaint island retreat off the coast of France, Millar encourages his senses to hold onto images of his family while he finds meaning in his present reality. Through the relationships that develop with some of the island inhabitants, Millar puts himself to work on restoring his soul - through the practice of making art, of course.

A lovely story that is perfect for daydreaming of far-off settings and artistic endeavours, The Restoration Artist makes for a nice break from the tedium of summer highway travel.

Now, it’s time to hit the road again. Next stop is a gas-up with Ann Shin’s The Family China with the aim to hit up Michael Cormier’s The Legacy of Tiananmen Square by sundown, if the traffic’s good.

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