The Arbutus/Madrone Files: Reading the Pacific Northwest

Article excerpt

Laurie Ricou, The Arbutus/Madrone Files: Reading the Pacific Northwest (Edmonton: NeWest Press, 2002), 240pp. Cloth. $24.95. ISBN 1-8963-0043-X.

'To collect some Northwest files is to acknowledge that the region is a set of shifting dependencies, partnerships, and conflicts' (p. 106). Laurie Ricou's eagerly awaited book has an unusual title and format which, without explanation, could be misleading. Certainly they are not X-files nor police records, but an assemblage of writings, illustrations and analysis that try to capture the essence of the Pacific Northwest. As a devotee of regionalism, I found the arrangement sometimes awkward but ultimately satisfyingly enjoyable, insofar as the sum becomes better than the parts. One immediate quibble concerns the presentation with doublecolumn pages frequently further subdivided with a central panel insert. If a section ends midway down the page, the reader needs to ignore the column division. Was this a touch of pagemaking finesse or an effort to wrestle with multifaceted data? In any case, the results are questionable. The illustrations, though chosen with care, are separated from their text references, which cannot be justified. We still need frameworks, however disparate the material

A real virtue of this book is interaction on both sides of the 49th Parallel, well demonstrated by the juxtaposition of John Okada's The No-No Boy with Joy Kogawa's Obasan. …