Angel Wing Splash Pattern by Richard Van CampI read Angel Wing Splash Pattern, a short story collection by Richard Van Camp, during last semester. Van Camp is now a Vancouver resident, but grew up in the Northwest Territories as a member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation. The short stories tie together with themes of healing, being Aboriginal, and living in the north.

Explore the healing going on in Indian country. There is pain in these stories and there is loss. There is death, but there is also rebirth, and there is always the search from each of the narrators for personal truth. Readers will recognize Larry Sole from Richard Van Camp’s The Lesser Blessed in the story “How I Saved Christmas”, but there are new voices here, new secrets, from new characters in communities across the north and the south, yet they are all linked by themes of hope, the spirit of friendship, and hunger.

From the publisher, Kegdonce Press

As I often find with short story collections, I wanted to continue reading — to follow the character’s journey and hear their story. Certain stories held me more captivated than others. For example, I wanted to hear all of Torchy’s life story, but only glimpsed a tortured piece of it from “Mermaids”.

I also enjoy when short story collections tie together, and not only does Angel Wing Splash Pattern have a uniting theme, but some of the characters reappeared in multiple stories. I appreciated how Van Camp played liberally with time, it being unimportant to the messages within.

Three of the stories from the collection have been narrated by Cree actor Ben Cardinal. We listened to one in lecture and they really are worth having a listen. They can be found on Richard Van Camp’s website.