Vancouver Special

Vancouver Special

Book - 2009
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Shortlisted for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize

Excerpted in the Vancouver Sun

Vancouver is at a crossroads in its history--host to the 2010 Winter Olympics and home to the poorest neighbourhood in Canada; a young, multicultural city with a vibrant surface and a violent undercoat; a savvy urbancentre with an inferiority complex.

In Vancouver Special , writer and performer Charles Demers examines the who, what, where, when, why, and how of Vancouver, shedding light on the various strategies and influences that have made the city what it is today (as well as what it should be). From a history of anti-Asian racism to a deconstruction of the city's urban sprawl; from an examination of local food trends to a survey of the city's politically radical past, Vancouver Special is a love letterto the city, taking a no-holds-barred look at Lotusland with verve, wit, and insight.

The book features stunning black-and-white photographs by Emmanuel Buenviaje throughout.

Publisher: Vancouver : Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009.
ISBN: 9781551522944
Branch Call Number: 971. 133 DEM
Characteristics: 271 p. : chiefly ill., map


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Mar 26, 2014

Demers has a very good writing style, and is capable of getting his opionion across without offending, due in part to his self-deprecating humour.

Though not meant as an academic tract, this book is thouroughly researched and very informative. It is also very honest, and one can easily see that Demers loves his city very much.

Jun 17, 2011

Vancouver Special tells an authentic story of Vancouver, warts and all. The story starts with it's cover and layout. The book itself is austere and colorless, filled with stark, black and while photographs. It is reflective of a particular image of Vancouver'the overcast drizzle that is all too familiar to residents.

The title refers to the much maligned houses production houses that were built in droves between the late sixties and early eighties. Their homely, boxy shape has been the butt of many jokes. Despite the these jabs, Vancouver Specials have become a nostalgic favorite of many Vancouverites. They may be homely and have many shortcomings, but they are authentic and they are 'ours'. As such, it is a perfect title for a book that highlights the cities many shortcomings, but still manages to conveys that authors earnest love of the city.

Demers' takes readers on a tour of the city. But instead of providing short vignettes, it provides longer essays. After an introduction sets that stage, Demers takes readers through several Vancouver's neighbourhoods in the first section The second section looks at the various cultures and races of people that live here. The third section is where it get most interesting. Here Demers takes an in-depth look at various aspects of culture that define the city, from pot to peace

Vancouver Special is also filled with great photography—haunting black and white shots of everyday life in the city. These picture reinforce the authentic feel of the book.

if the book has a flaw, it is Demers' unflinching leftist take on the challenges Vancouver faces. This could alienate some readers.

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