Beggar's Garden by Michael ChristieBeggar's Garden by Michael Christie

Beggar's Garden

byMichael Christie

Hardcover | January 25, 2011

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Longlisted for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Brilliantly sure-footed, strikingly original, tender and funny, this collection of nine linked stories follows a diverse group of curiously interrelated characters—from bank manager to crackhead to retired Samaritan to web designer to car thief--as they drift through each others’ lives in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside.

These engrossing stories, gleefully free of moral judgment, are about people who are searching in the jagged margins of life -- for homes, drugs, love, forgiveness.  Ranging from the tragically funny opening story “Emergency Contact” to the audacious, crack-fuelled rush of “Goodbye Porkpie Hat” to the deranged and thrilling extreme of “King Me,” The Beggar’s Garden is a powerful and affecting debut, written with an exceptional eye and ear and heart.

MICHAEL CHRISTIE received his MFA in creative writing from UBC. Previously, he worked in a homeless shelter in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and provided outreach to the severely mentally ill. Along with being a nearly washed-up professional skateboarder, he’s currently a senior writer for Color Magazine, an award-winning skateboarding...
Title:Beggar's GardenFormat:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.75 × 5.75 × 0.95 inPublished:January 25, 2011Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1554688299

ISBN - 13:9781554688296

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great collection of urban tales I'm not sure how I heard about this book but once I started reading I knew that I had picked a winner. Christie has written a selection of short stories, all taking place in his hometown of Vancouver, that deal with everything to homelessness to mental illness. Although the subject matter is dark, Christie manages to lift us up with a healthy sense of humour and interesting storylines. One story has an elderly widower coming across his grandson, now homeless, quite by accident and he tries to help the lad by following him around and leaving "presents" in the boy's familiar haunts. Every story was fascinating and completely convincing in its veracity and detail. Obviously Christie has spent some time around these places and knows the scoop on what is going on. Although readers not familiar with Vancouver may not know some of the neighbourhoods mentioned, you could easily put these stories into any major city. This book is highly recommended!
Date published: 2013-04-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I'd hoped for better.. I really wanted to love this book! After all, I have lived in Vancouver for many years, and I am familiar with the plight of those in Vancouver Downtown Eastside. This is a small volume of nine short stories (262pages) that take place on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. To the author's credit, the stories are told without judgement, morality, or sentimentality. The author worked on the Vancouver Downtown Eastside for a time as a homeless shelter, reaching out to those in need, so I'm sure he knows his subject. However, I found that I was left a bit cold by some of the short stories. I found the book to be uneven, which I suppose is not unexpected in book of short stories. Some tales really grabbed me - like "Discard" - the story of a widower left on his own, who decides to seek out his long forgotten grandson by going to live in the alleys where unbeknowst to his grandson, he meets up with him and they join forces." Good Bye PorkPie Hat" was a look into rooming houses in the downtown Eastside and a man addicted to crack. " King Me" was a fascinating look into the lives - one in particular - of those still left in Vancouver's Mental Hospital, Riverview. That story was quite heartbreaking -and yet - those people probably have it better than those who have been turned out of Riverview Hospital to the Downtown Eastside. Another story tugged at my heartstrings -" The Queen of Cans and Jars". In summary, it's the tale of a woman who worked in the shoe department of Woodwards. After losing her job at Woodwards she choses to run and live in within the premises of a second hand thrift shop in the Downtown Eastside. Another stab at the heart concerns the story of a mentally disabled man, who relies on a somewhat dishonest buddy to manage his affairs, rather than live in a boarding house. I don't want to say to much more - so as not to spoil the book for any of you. The last story is an interesting twist of a tale. While this book did not grab me the way I expected - in retrospect, I supppose the majority of the stories were worthwhile reads. This author did particulary well in portraying the poor, the marginalized, and the mentally ill -and how so many of us could be but a short step from those on the street. For that reason alone, perhaps this is an important read.
Date published: 2011-04-05

Editorial Reviews

"The Beggar’s Garden takes the pulse of history by unsentimentally dramatizing the way a certain segment of society lives now, and in so doing stands as a sympathetic and compassionate examination of modern urban loneliness and disaffection."
– National Post ()