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One of the most influential Canadian authors, Robert Kroetsch wrote about this place called Alberta, even though he spent much of his life living outside of the province. The number of Alberta authors, in particular, who were mentored, instructed, encouraged, or even just befriended by this man are far too many to list. He touched all of us in different ways – but I can attest that even a slight touch from Kroetsch was enough to make a difference in the way we write and approach this business of publishing. Readers, as well, were introduced to this place called Alberta, a place that Kroetsch’s eastern publishers (and that would be Toronto) thought he must have made up. It couldn’t exist, they told him. (Click here to listen to many archived podcasts of wonderful interviews conducted by Bob Chelmick on his The Road Home programme on CKUA.)
Well, he did make up some of what he wrote, because that’s what all good fiction writers do – they lie. But he was one of the first to actually write about this place we call home, and write about it very well.
We lost Robert Kroetsch in a car accident last year, on my birthday. The entire book community was stunned, shocked, when we realized that this wonderful man was no longer with us. I wrote a blog post about this, and of my experience of having known the man.
In recent years, University of Alberta Press had been working with Robert Kroetsch in reissuing all his earlier works, and they published what turned out to be his last collection of poetry, Too Bad in 2010. Cathie Crooks, Sales and Marketing Manager at UAP, was also creating a dedicated website for Kroetsch and all of his books at the time of his death. This comprehensive site has finally been launched, so to help celebrate, I am recommending the writing of Robert Kroetsch for this week’s Alberta Books Canada Friday Reads selection.
We still miss you fiercely, Robert Kroetsch!