Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hannus Review

Some eight months after its publication and four months after it was nominated for a BC Book Prize, Rachel's book has finally received its first review. Unfortunately, it's a very brief and superficial one.

Ever since Hannus was a manuscript in utero, it's received two widely divergent kinds of response: a) wild enthusiasm and a perception of great emotional intimacy and b) head-scratching confusion and a perception of emotional distance. There doesn't seem to be much in between. When Rachel was at Concordia working on the book as her MA thesis, she had a prof who told her point-blank that people wouldn't have the patience to work out all the intricacies and contradictions of the book and that no publisher would be interested in it. Unfortunately, that fatuous prediction has only been proven partially false. Despite its distinctly west-coast subject matter, no BC publishers were interested in it; it took an unorthodox publisher like Beth Follett of Pedlar Press to see its merit. Another publisher's first reader loved the book, while the second reader complained that the book "spoke when she wanted it to sing." Presumably, she was talking about the passages that are written in prose... It was a lovely bit of literary comeuppance when Hannus was nominated for a regional interest prize in the BC Book Prizes this spring.

I guess what this means is that this is not a book with "universal appeal." It is not a book that can be easily or passively consumed. It is, however, a book that receptive readers, willing to do their fair share of work in piecing Ida Hannus' story together, have loved. Which is as close to an objective statement about it as I can get.


Tracy Hannus-Hamilton said...

Well, I am going to buy it because, I am some how related to her and I think that it's wonderful that Rachel wrote about her life. I am so excited to find this book! I am crying tears of joy because, I am a Hannus and NEVER knew my Hannus' Family. So this will give me a chance to at least grasp part of who I am and where I come from. I am somehow related to your wife. Not sure the precise lineage but, possibly her cousin.

Zachariah Wells said...

Wonderful to hear, Tracy. If you're reading this, please drop me a line by email: and I can put you in touch with Rachel.