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A stranger is a friend we haven’t met, or at least someone with whom we can share a very lasting connection. That’s the thought behind a new collection of essays edited by Edmonton writer Colleen Kinder.
Letters to a Stranger: Essays to the Ones Who Haunt Us is a collection of stories from writers who’ve had an amazing experience with someone they don’t know but who has changed their life or impacted their journey. They bump into eccentric characters in bars, share kisses with newly-met faces or reminisce about rickshaw drivers who still leave an impression decades later.
Letters to a Stranger started as a column for Off Assignment, a non-profit literary magazine started to tell “the story behind the story.” The column was a way for writers to publish pieces about experiences that really had no other home, no way of finding a way into print.
The book is a collection of the most popular and poignant essays run in the magazine, as well as 30 that have never been published before.
Each letter is written to the stranger, but often reveals more about the writer and their experience, where they were in life when they had the encounter or how it changed them moving forward.
“I think that these essays are their best when they are focused and when they feel like they actually could be letters,” says Kinder. “It’s not a leap of imagination for the reader for this to be written on a couple sheets of paper and mailed off.”
Travel features heavily in Letters to a Stranger, by writers who may not know the language or much about a culture and may be looking for someone to open up to. Loneliness plays a part in some letters, but the sentiments go beyond that.
“I think travellers broadcast a certain type of vulnerability. That can open the door to many authentic conversations and interactions with strangers that can lead a person down a whole bunch of paths,” says Kinder.
Letters to a Stranger: Essays to the Ones Who Haunt Us is published by Algonquin Books and released March 22 in Canada by Thomas Allen & Son.
You can find more about the author at colleenkinder.com, and more letters at offassignment.com.
I’ll take Edmonton facts for $200, Alex
Pop quiz hotshot: what trivia book about the City of Champions is climbing the Alberta bestseller lists? The answer: The Ultimate Edmonton Trivia Book.
Local author Emil Tiedemann used to frequent pub trivia nights before the pandemic shut down in-person gatherings. Yearning for something local to fill the question gap, he started compiling facts about the city. The result was The Ultimate Edmonton Trivia Book, featuring more than 700 questions across 20 categories.
The book was released by Ikagi Press on Dec. 4, 2021, visit emiltiedemann.ca for more about the author.
A delectable publication from former Edmontonian
Former Edmontonian and cookbook maven Leanne Brown has a new publication, and this one’s a very personal affair.
Her newest title, Good Enough, mixes deeply personal essays with her popular recipes. The book, published by Algonquin Books and released by Thomas Allen & Son in Canada on Jan. 11, is based around learning to love and accept yourself.
Brown published her last book, Good and Cheap, just before leaving Edmonton for New York. That book taught people how to eat nutritious meals on $4 a day, the amount people receive in food stamps in the US. That book was given away to food banks throughout North America and the PDF is still free on Brown’s website, leannebrown.com.
She was also the author behind Edmonton Cooks, a book that features more than 75 recipes from the city’s best restaurants, which she collected alongside co-author Tina Faiz.
Meet historian Adriana Davies for dinner
Local author and historian Adriana Davies will be the inaugural author taking part in the Dining with Authors series being put on by the Friends of the Royal Alberta Museum Society (FRAMS).
Davies will be sharing insights and research from her book From Sojourners to Citizens: Alberta’s Italian History, which tracked the influence of generations of Italian settlers as they arrived in the province. The series is a spinoff of the popular Dining with Friends, which was put on hold at the beginning of the pandemic. FRAMS expects that series to return, while running Dining with Authors at the same time.
The dinner is March 29 at Sorrentino’s downtown tickets, only available until March 24, are $63.09 at frams.ca.
Horsing around a fantasy thread
Edmonton fantasy writer and editor Rhonda Parrish, known for her love of alliteration, has an anthology coming out this month for fans and fanatics of flights of fancy.
Her newest anthology, Untethered, focuses on stories that are a little untamed, and all about horses. The topic was chosen by Parrish’s online Patreon supporters, who donate each month to get access to some of her content early and choose upcoming themes.
Untethered will be released March 22 and available through major online retailers. For more about the author, visit rhondaparrish.com.