Place: Lethbridge, a City on the Prairie

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Douglas & McIntyre, 2002 - Landscape photography - 127 pages
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Acclaimed photographer Geoffrey James spent months tracking the Prairie light while photographing the city of Lethbridge and its environs. His exquisite eye caught the changing seasons of a town and a landscape in flux. Those images, which have established his international reputation as one of the finest contemporary photog-raphers of our time, reveal something of a place, a sensibility and a harsh light that together probe to the core of the Canadian experience. The images formed the basis of a critically acclaimed exhibition, The Lethbridge Project, at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. Now, they have been married with the powerful words of Rudy Wiebe to present a vision of the very soul of Canada, and of that Prairie experience which has so informed recent Canadian fiction. Rudy Wiebe, one of Canada's leading writers, offers an accompanying set of brief stories that draw on many layers of history as well as his personal memories to evoke the sense of place - of land, water, sky and human action - that is Lethbridge.

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About the author (2002)

Geoffrey James has been a photographer since 1970. He has solo exhibitions around the world, and his work has appeared in many books, including, Running Fence, Toronto, and Place. He has received many awards, and in 2002 won both the Roloff Beny Award for photography and the Gershon Iskowitz Prize for lifetime achievement in the visual arts. Born in Wales and educated at Oxford, he lives in Toronto.

A firm belief in the redemptive possibilities of history dominates Rudy Wiebe's fiction. His characters search for community, for a spiritual collective informed and strengthened by historical consciousness. This attempt to unite the present and the past stems from Wiebe's Mennonite religious background. Central to the Mennonite belief is the rejection of loyalty to contemporary and worldly government; personal commitment belongs, instead, to the religious community, with its hard-earned historical heritage as a nonconformist movement. Wiebe was born in a northern Saskatchewan farming community; in 1947 the family moved to Alberta, and he completed his education at the University of Alberta, where he teaches. Wiebe's first novel, Peace Shall Destroy Many (1962), addresses pacifism, a belief central to Mennonites. The novel's hero faces a moral quandary when forced to choose between religious convictions and Canadian nationalistic fervor during World War II. While The Blue Mountains of China (1970) records Mennonite history, The Temptations of Big Bear (1973) examines the destruction of Indian culture in white Canada, and The Scorched-Wood People (1977) takes up the plight of the Metis---those with mixed blood; all three novels focus on minorities who must struggle to maintain their sense of community. Ideas repugnant to the Mennonite sensibility, violence and self-destruction, figure in The Mad Trapper (1980), which recounts the hunt for a man whose isolation has driven him into madness. In 1980 Wiebe's short stories were collected in The Angel of the Tar Sands and Other Stories. Stylistically, Wiebe gives little ground to the reader, for his fiction is characterized by difficult dialects, a web of details, and a dense style.

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