FFB: Smith and Other Events: Stories of the Chilcotin

this is the 71st in my series of forgotten books

Smith and Other Events – Stories of the Chilcotin by Paul St. Pierre © 1984, Beaufort Books, Inc., 1984 hardcover, short story collection

Back in ’84 when I was a regular visitor to Star Books, a small chain of semi-discount bookstores in competition with Crown Books, I came across this book. I guess you could call it “general fiction”, though the stories within it take place in the Chilcotin country of western British Columbia, and many are about ranchers and horsemen and Indians that would fit into a western. I guess it’s western fiction without being “a western”; no shoot-em-ups, no gun fights, no stage coach robberies, not of that.

These are stories about people, and many of them include a character named Smith, hence the title of the book. Smith and his wife and his child own a piece of land and raise some horses, which they can most of the time find if needed, and some cattle, and the land is mostly hay meadow though some of it is a bit swampy. This is Namko country, and Namko is the nearest town, and Williams Lake is the nearest big town, these things all being relative, and there in Namko there is a general Store run by Larsen, and he shows up in a lot of the stories too.

What these are, in fact are short stories about people in a particular place and time, and St. Pierre writes about them with such feeling and humor (dry, lightly applied) and insight it’s hard not to like everything between these covers.

I pulled this off the shelf several months ago and have been snacking on one story after another, now and then, for a while, always enjoying the characters and the stories and the way they are told and admiring St, Pierre and wondering why I’d never heard of him before. If you haven’t heard of him, this would be a good time to make his acquaintance, and this book would be a good place to do it.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

links to all of this weeks Forgotten Book posts can be found
on Patti Abbott’s blog, Pattinase

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in books, Friday Forgotten Book, reading, Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to FFB: Smith and Other Events: Stories of the Chilcotin

  1. This one is definitely something I would enjoy. Thanks for the post.

  2. Todd Mason says:

    Well, a western doesn’t need a shoot-out (any more than SF needs an alien visitation, or fantasy an elf), and a contemporary western even less so…or what WWA is tending to call “Novels [or stories] of the West” for award purposes. St. Pierre’s name rings that faintest of bells, but this does sound good…hell, THE LONER by Ester Wier was my favorite novel as a preteen, and it’s a contemporary northwestern about a kid who is taken in by shepherds (and it just nudged out the usual suspects by Jack London for pride of place, among many less relevant others). So I’ve been primed for this kind of fiction for quite some time…and have liked the work of people ranging from Sherman Alexie to Leslie Silko to Craig Leslie for a lot of years…and the Joe Lansdales and Lee Hoffmans, too, to get away from IE names (St. Pierre…it’s a trend). Thanks!

  3. Sometimes I really crave a story about people in a particular place and situation, and this sounds like it might fill that bill. Most of the time, though, I do like the trappings of the genres, the shoot outs and such.

  4. Richard says:

    Randy, Todd, Charles, when I sat down to write this one I thought “I bet Cahrles and Ron Scheer would like this one, maybe Randy too. I admit I didn’t think of Todd in that moment, but your comment, Todd, makes me think this will work for you too. I have no idea if this, or his other Smith book Smith and the Quarter Horse, are available in the library system or not, as this has been on my shelf for a while now.

  5. Ron Scheer says:

    Richard, I was so tickled to see your comment on my review of Joe Henry’s stories, I had to come right over. I’ve read two of the Smith books (this and a novel, BREAKING SMITH’S QUARTER HORSE), and they are all-time favorites. The humor is wonderfully dry and ironic, and they nicely capture the feeling of an isolated rural community, plus the dynamic between Smith and his wife.

    A similar writer in BC from that same period is Richmond Hobson Jr., who has an autobiographical novel, NOTHING TOO GOOD FOR A COWBOY, which is both entertaining and exciting. By comparison with both writers, Henry is more romantic and poetic. My review of one of the Smith books is here: http://buddiesinthesaddle.blogspot.com/2010/07/book-breaking-smiths-quarter-horse.html

  6. I found both Smith books on Amazon for less than ten bucks for both, including S & H. Thanks for the tips,

  7. Richard says:

    Ron, great! Thanks a bunch.

    Randy, I’ll really be interested in your opinion after reading!

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