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The Globe and Mail

One question: What was your favourite book to teach?

Canadian author Alistair MacLeod

Ted Rhodes

Alistair MacLeod's The Lost Salt Gift of Blood. What I found very moving was MacLeod's haunting, rhythmic prose, reminiscent almost of the rhythms of the King James Bible. The elegiac tone of the stories memorializes a distinctive culture that was disappearing because the young were unable to find jobs and were thus leaving Cape Breton for an impersonal world of mass culture. There's this painful honesty and terrible beauty in all of MacLeod's writing that made it a joy to teach. My students were moved by the writing, the history and the depictions of haunting family loyalties. One memorably said, "this isn't like life, this is life."

Hugh Cook, retired professor of English, Redeemer University College, Ancaster, On.

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