Johanna Skibsrud

Johanna Skibsruds first poetry collection, Late Nights With Wild Cowboys, was published in 2008 by Gaspereau Press and was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award. She has also published a novel with Gaspereau Press entitled The Sentimentalists. Originally from Scotsburn, Nova Scotia, she now lives in Montreal.


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The Sentimentalists
Johanna Skibsrud

2009 / Fiction / $27.95
9781554470785 / Trade paper / 224 pp


Johanna Skibsruds debut novel connects the flooding of an Ontario town, the Vietnam War, a trailer in North Dakota and an unfinished boat in Maine. Parsing family history, worn childhood memories, and the palimpsest of old misunderstandings, Skibsruds narrator maps her fathers past.

Napoleon Haskell lives with Henry in the town of Casablanca, Ontario, on the shores of a man-made lake beneath which lie the remains of the former town. Henry is the father of Napoleons friend Owen, who died fighting in Vietnam. When her life comes apart, Napoleons daughter retreats to Casablanca and is soon immersed in the complicated family stories that lurk below the surface of everyday life. With its quiet mullings and lines from Bogart, The Sentimentalists captures a daughters wrestling with a heady family mythology.

The real beginning of this story, says Skibsrud, was a summer that I spent working on Flagstaff lake, a lake that covers four now submerged townships in northern Maine, and served as the inspiration for the lake and the buried town in my book. That fall, with the beginnings of a story in my head, my father began to speak for the first time about his experiences in the Vietnam War. I am still not sure exactly why he told me his story when he did, but I think it had to do it was 2003 then with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which had been for some time stirring in him a deep anger toward a government willing to repeat the mistakes of the past at the expense of innocent people; soldiers as well as civilians.

My mother thinks that my father told me his stories because he knew that I would do something with them what I did write, though, was not my fathers story, but my own. And it is not a true story. At its root, though, there are two true things. One is my fathers testimony following Operation Liberty II in 1967, in which he spoke out against the murder of a civilian woman by the Captain of his squad. The other is the feeling I got floating over the buried towns of Flagstaff Lake: a feeling of the way that everything exists in layers, that nothing disappears; it just gets hidden sometimes.

Has an Electronic Edition: 9781554471003

Other Books by this Author

The Sentimentalists
Johanna Skibsrud

2010 / Fiction / $14.95 CAN / $14.95 US
9781554471003 / Kobo Ebook
I Do Not Think that I Could Love a Human Being
Johanna Skibsrud

2010 / Poetry / $19.95 CAN / $19.95 US
9781554470853 / Trade paper
Late Nights With Wild Cowboys
Johanna Skibsrud

2008 / Poetry / $18.95 CAN / $18.95 US
9781554470525 / Trade paper

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