Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Book Review: "Campie" by Barbara Stewart

It seems that everywhere you go in Canada, you hear of people leaving for the oil fields in Alberta or Northern British Columbia to get a job. Some of these jobs are paid very well indeed. Others, not so much. Especially if you're the campie.

I've had this book for a while, and just got to reading it a few days ago. I wasn't expecting to like it, given the description on the front of the book which gives one definition of campie (the main character of this memoir) as "a sober, celibate, bankrupt vegetarian" because that doesn't sound like much fun now, does it?

But I was wrong. This is a very good book indeed. Barbara Stewart has given us great insight into not just the lonely slog work of a campie (a camp attendant in an oil-rig camp...a cleaning lady, a janitor), but also allows us to witness a searching insight into the soul of the writer. For some oil patch workers, their experience in the north turns into their own personal Heart of Darkenss. For many, it may be the only choice they have. What seems to be a quick way to accumulate some ready money, turns out to be much more.

Stewart looks into herself and sees how she ended up where she did, and how she was going to get herself out of that place, both emotionally and physically. Campie is beautifully written and constructed, with a smooth flow from one event--and thought process--to the other. The book is 190 pages long, and I read it quickly in one evening. That says a lot for the quality of the words, and the deep emotional connection that the author conveys. 

For an interesting insight into how she incorporated her religious faith into the book, read this great blog post.

Campie is published by Heritage House and is available anywhere fine books are sold.

I review books on British Columbia , and on Nordic Noir. I can be found on Twitter @susmithjosephy I'm writing another book, so check out my website.
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