A tribute to nature’s influence on the creative process, Bog Tender is an enchanting memoir that explores nature and the act of writing, and where the two intersect. Accomplished fiction author George Szanto lives and writes on a bog that cuts his property in two. Rather than filling in the wetland, he has embraced it as a site of inspiration. Pieced together in twelve chapters—one for each month of the year—this unique narrative explores how Szanto’s writing process is affected by the bog’s transformations throughout the seasons. In each chapter, the author searches for the moments of greatest consequence to him, from his parents’ escape from Hitler’s Vienna, to his time spent studying in Germany, to meeting his future wife and becoming a parent, to his adventures in Mexico.
Set in a place where city is left behind for rural space, Bog Tender is about home and the intricate connections that evolve under and above the water.
From the Times-Colonist:
“Beautifully written, deeply felt without succumbing to cheap sentiment, Bog Tender is, at its heart, an account of a life spent searching for home, physical, emotional and spiritual, a celebration of finding one’s place in the world, be it ever so humble — and magical — as a small bog on a small island.” (read more…)
And, from Kirkus Reviews:
Twelve months of natural splendor on Vancouver Island’s eastern coast.
The stretch of wetlands where novelist and former collegiate professor Szanto (Never Hug a Mugger on Quadra Island, 2011, etc.) has spent the past decade is located on Gabriola, a British Columbian island the size and shape of Manhattan but with only 4,000 residents. From September to August, Szanto offers a lushly rendered, one-year pastoral chronicle of life in and around a marshland bog as observed by a seasoned writer who is both enamored and emotionally buoyed by it. Amid descriptions of the bog’s natural beauty and delicate ecology, the author also incorporates personal anecdotes of random eyesight maladies, baking homemade bread, the hoarfrost in winter and salmon fishing in summer. More momentous events follow, such as surviving the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, his courtship of his wife and the deaths of his parents, whose escape from Nazi-occupied Vienna is described in gripping detail. Even richer moments include a touching midwinter dinner gathering with friends who’d all survived life-threatening illnesses. But it’s the vibrant, abundant bog just outside his windows that takes center stage as the author delightfully surveys iridescent dragonflies, raccoons and countless bird species. Though the hazards of country living are numerous, they only seem to bring out the author’s indefatigable temperament. After a nasty hornet sting that nearly killed him, Szanto resolved to keep the extinguished nest, situated above his front door, “as a war memorial.”
An earthy, homespun and voyeuristically satisfying book.