Memory and Mythology – Steven Price

Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash

Member Janet S. gave the last presentation of our spring session on Canadian author Steven Price. Mr. Price is the author of several collections of poetry (Anatomy of Keys, Omens in the Year of the Ox) and 3 novels (Into That Darkness, By Gaslight, Lampedusa). Although they are all very different, Janet showed that each work had memory in it’s essence.

Lampedusa, his most recent novel, was Janet’s favourite. It is an imagining of the struggles of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of The Leopard. While it is not a typical novel, being based more on character than plot and using limited punctuation, it shows the poetry Price brings to his novels. Janet appreciated the emotion that Price brings to dying and death as a passage of life. It shows how Lampedusa used memories of his own life to produce a novel about the end of an era.

The Anatomy of Keys, while it is a book of poetry, is inspired by the life of Harry Houdini. It uses polished alliteration and metaphor which Janet demonstrated through reading poem 13. Omens in the Year of the Ox has mythology as a theme, but a dark emotion is evoked.

Unlike me and some other club members, Janet did not enjoy By Gaslight, Price’s novel about a real life Pinkerton detective in the years after the American Civil War. She found it dense and complex with many flashbacks to explain the plot. She found herself liking the anti-hero more than the protagonist. However, she did enjoy some of the excellent descriptive passages.

Janet next discussed Steven Price’s first novel, which she read last. Into That Darkness is about Victoria in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. It is a bleak world turned asunder, partially told through the thoughts of the three main characters. Like Mr. Price’s poetry, this work alludes to classical mythology – a journey into hell.

Another excellent presentation on a Canadian author. What a great way to end the spring session!

If you want to read more about Mr. Price, Janet’s summary can be found here:

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